One of my friends has a problem. Her daughter refuses to ski. She also refuses to snowboard. She tried both sports when she was younger, but now at 15, she’s independent, stubborn and too young to leave at home alone when the family goes on ski weekends.
What’s a mom to do?
Headaches and Broken Hearts
It’s difficult when parents and children don’t share the same interests.
When our children are babies, many of us imagine the day when they will be adventuring alongside us as we ski, climb, raft and more. When reality hits and our kids don’t care for our passions, it’s heartbreaking and frustrating.
Little Kids Get Cold (and Tired, Hungry and Hot)
Young children are enthusiastic and game for almost anything, especially if their family is excited about it. But, if they have an uncomfortable experience the first time, they’ll be more reluctant the second time. Depending upon how fresh or bad the memory is, you may run into resistance.
Plan for your child’s well-being. We know from experience that a cute coat is not necessarily a warm coat. We also know that a cold child will not want to ski again – for a long time. Dress your child properly, keep them fed and hydrated, attend to their comfort and approach every adventure with joy.
That joy will usually be contagious, but if a bad memory is too fresh, let some time pass. Have fun in other ways and then reintroduce the activity with better gear, better planning and, hopefully, a better outcome. Continue to gently promote the activity, but know when to back off and let time take its course.
When our younger son was eight, he had a frightening mountain bike fall. It terrified him and it terrified us. For 18 months, he wouldn’t go near a bike.
A negative experience, especially a frightening one, can put a huge damper on family fun. As parents with a passion, it is tempting to push our kids too far, too fast.
Try to resist this temptation. Grade school kids can do a lot,and their skills progress rapidly. But don’t let your goals lure you into pushing your child too fast. Let the kids set the pace and let their growing skills and interest define the adventure. Enjoy the slower pace and easier route, while you can still keep up with them!
Teens Being Teens
No surprise here: teens want (and need) to cut their ties and strike out on their own. As your children grow, you may find that they no longer want to spend their free time adventuring with you. Your child who once enjoyed long bike rides with you, now refuses to go. She’d rather stay home, visit friends or do something else.
No matter what we’re planning, we always include our sons, inviting them on bike rides and hikes and ski days. They are welcome to say “no” or join in and participate.
But spending some family time together is non-negotiable. On weekends or long summer nights, we ask them what they want to do, and we do it. This means that sometimes this summer, you’ll find me on the disc golf course or playing badminton instead of grinding out miles on my bike.
And you know what, it’s great. While I may never have a passion for throwing a disc at a chain target, I definitely have a passion for my kids.
And if they love it, I love it.
- Biking On His Own Terms: A Pushy Mom’s Lament, September 28, 2011.
- Fear Factor, October 28, 2010.
- Learning From My Outdoor Parenting Mistakes, May 24, 2011.
Originally posted as part of an Adventure Moms blog at WomensAdventure.com.
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