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Can't Care More Than You Do

The family dynamic has changed once again in our home with Number 3 heading off to college. If you are doing the math correctly, that only leaves Number 4 at home with Kori and I. We can honestly say from past experiences, things change when you take away a family member from the home. Every time someone has left to head out on their own, the home unit has been affected. Poor Number 4, he is the only one left and as Kori and I like to say, we can now give our undivided attention to him.

Dance is Number 4’s thing, along with Show Choir and Theater. He spends countless hours every week doing what he loves. His goal is to pursue these passions after high school, into college and hopefully after that as well. Sometimes this lifelong desire conflicts with a teen’s need to chill and loose himself in Youtube videos. When that happens, mom and dad’s full attention turns towards and onto the 16 year old for some quick attitude adjustment.

The phrase we have used with all our kids is as relevant today as it was when we rolled it out for the first time over 10 years ago. I would like to give credit to the wise person who imparted such wisdom, but my old brain fails me once again. I am sure all the credit goes to my wife who always had the foresight to sign us up for very appropriate parenting classes over the years.

The phrase goes something like this, “We can’t care more about ____ than you care about_____.” You can choose the word that will correctly fits in the blanks for your own children. I would guess that the word would change with each kid like it does in our family. Number 1 you could use the word golf. Number 2 the word would change to singing. Number 3 would be grades and Number 4 would be dance.

Not long ago, Number 4 had a scheduled event at the high school which ended up conflicting with one of his dance classes. He was quick to say when he got home from school, that he couldn’t go to dance(which was from 7:30-10:00) because he had to be at school until 8:00. At that point my wife and I looked at each other and said, “Why not, you are only missing a half hour of class?” To which he replies, “Oh, I thought I didn’t have to go since class had already started.”

This conversation naturally led to the above mentioned statement, which was met with a heavy roll of the eyes by Number 4. The “blowoff” was quickly met with an in depth discussion of what we meant as the original statement did not have its intended result. It is not our goal to dance professionally, we are only supporting his dream. He should view all class opportunities as another chance to improve his skills. This discussion eventually hits its mark and he got it. He got it the same way all the kids got it at some point. When the light finally turns on, the perspective changes.

Now he views classes differently and looks to learn something new every day. He is now determined to improve his skills and less worried about the amount of time he has to spend at the studio everyday. This happens the majority of the time but every once in awhile we have to help him refocus. Once we start our sentence, he is quick to finish it for us. That is when we know he is once again on board.

I realize I have condensed this teen/adult conflict to a paragraph or two. I also realize that this isn’t an easy transition for kids or parents. I do believe that the conversation is worth having and that when your kids buy into it, the way ours did, then the kids become more responsible for themselves and the parents are then free to worry about other things like boyfriends, girlfriends, colleges, and car insurance. It is never boring in the ZagZig life we love living.

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