Miss Sally wrote:
This isn’t a relationship question or love question, I’ll just warn you now. It’s a parenting question and I hope you can assist me. I am a single mother of a 4 year old boy. His father and I share custody and have gotten along well until recently. During the last year, my son took a liking to skating and his father has pushed him into hockey, year round. The boy can’t even enjoy being a kid because he’s dealing with workouts, foot and hand blisters, and stuff like that. This is the issue. My son’s father wasn’t ever very good at anything and once he saw our son was a natural skater, he set out to make him a hockey star..but my son doesn’t want it. When comes back to me, all he does is sleep because he works so hard at his dad’s. He says things like “I don’t want to go play hockey” when I take him back to his dad’s and it breaks my heart to see him upset.
His father says that our son is just “being a baby” and that he should realize the potential he has, but I say he should be a kid. Who is right here? What can I do?
This is a rough one, but I’ll side with you on this issue. It’s rough because it seems as though the father has good intentions, as misguided as they may seem, and is doing something to connect with your son. I am thinking he lives with you full time? I am also sensing that there is an emotional rift between him and his father that was filled with some sort of “drill” type connection…but I could be wrong there.
You are absolutely correct in seeing the importance of letting a kid be a kid. Too often, parents push their kids to act like a grown up and it is damaging to their long term emotional and mental well-being. In my opinion, kids shouldn’t be watching grown-up movies, doing grown-up things, or spend hours practicing a sport like an adult would. Fundamentals are fundamentals, but when it’s 3-4 hours a day and the kid is 4 years old, I think that definitely qualifies as extreme.
What can you do? If you feel there is a long term health/emotional risk, talk to his father and try to get him to understand why you’re concerned. If it goes on beyond that point, talk to a social services professional and see what your options are from there. You have a duty as a mother to look out for the best interests of your son.