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Parents Talk: You're Done with It, but Are the Kids?

What if you've seen or done something enough for a lifetime, but younger folks haven't?

Whiz, boom. Ooh, ahh. Yawn. 

As we age, we tire of fireworks.

But it takes a few decades, and most kids are not there yet. So we pack a blanket or a sheet to sit on and head for another fireworks show, whether at a festival or for the Fourth. Even if we're bored, the kids aren't.

What is the line between teaching kids your values, and letting dislikes or "been-there-done-that" restrict the richness of their young lives?

Take Disneyland and Disneyworld. Maybe they don't have quite the pull they did when I was a kid. But I got to go to each one once during visits to cousins in California and grandparents in Florida. My kids don't beg to go to Disneyland; they don't even mention it. Do they not know or not care? Or have they picked up on the fact that I for one never need to go to either place again?

Or take boating and canoeing. We don't own either kind of watercraft (I should turn in my Native Minnesotan card, I know). But I haven't forgotten how it felt as a kid on the bottom of a boat while a grownup at the outboard motor plies choppy lake waves. Or to take my turn sitting at the stern of a canoe, steering a course for the first time. As a parent, have I done all I could to give my kids those experiences—renting a boat or borrowing a canoe if necessary?

What activity or experience have you had enough of? Do you make sure your kids experienced it anyway, or do you skip it?

Courtney Rathke July 05, 2012 at 03:37 PM
I grew up in a family of girls. As it happens, I don't have daughters myself; I have two sons. My boys would not be interested in many things my sister and I loved. (for instance, it was a childhood highlight of mine to see the homesteads of Laura Ingalls Wilder in Pepin, WI and DeSmet, SD.) Perhaps it's not as much a matter of "disliking" or "being tired of" an activity as it is a matter of considering one's own family structure, the children's interests, and finding a way to mesh those with what one views as "tradition." My husband and I have found ways to give our sons a taste of "this is what I did when I was your age" and let them have a say in whether we will all continue to tailor that particular activity to fit our family. That way they have the feeling of continuity and tradition, while we can find ways to make the same activity somewhat more refreshing and interesting as well. That said, there are definately some things that require tag-team parenting. My husband loathes the State Fair. (he's from WI, so we can give him a pass on that one). So I've taken the kids myself. When I was little, the exhibits were the highlight for my family. My boys couldn't possibly care less about the loudest rooster or the most ruby-red strawberry jam. But they find the DNR building fascinating. And we are able to build memories of "remember when Mom took us..." and "remember when Dad showed us..." , which is every bit as priceless and valuable.
Chris Steller (Editor) July 05, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Courtney, thank you for taking it beyond a question of "tired of." And tag-teaming whenever possible and necessary, is a great way to go. The parent-child gender difference maybe reverses the problem--you want to do stuff they don't? But it sounds like you're past that.
Becky Glander (Editor) July 05, 2012 at 08:31 PM
I feel like there are some things that just should be done. For instance, last night while I was sitting on the (hard) ground on a blanket waiting for fireworks, I decided that all fireworks have started to look the same. I had to hush my "mom thoughts" such as "Will I be able to wake my daughter up in the morning after this late night?" and with it being too late to get a bath in, "Will her hair be a rat's nest and I will have to struggle to brush it in the morning?" and "With this crowd, will we ever get out of our parking space?" Then "Taps" played and the loudest of fireworks echoed in the sky. I hugged my daughter who was leaning on me and realized there are just some things that are meant to be repeated over and over.
Wendy Erlien July 06, 2012 at 01:22 PM
The older my kids get, the more I found out that they are just as bored with things as I am!
rob_h78 July 06, 2012 at 02:26 PM
I am relatively new to Minnesota and having grown up on the coast of California I have pretty much zero percent experience with winter \ snow activities so my young son and I are experiencing winter activities together for the first time and are having a blast learning how to snowmobile, cross country ski, sled, etc...
Joshua July 06, 2012 at 03:30 PM
I think that children value and have fun with activities based on the amount of enthusiasm that the parents exhibit, plain and simple. In my family, fireworks are a big deal because dad is still a kid at heart, and my kids love the 4th of July.
Becky Glander (Editor) July 06, 2012 at 05:32 PM
I agree, Joshie. The more enthusiastic we are as parents, the more kids get excited. And then it's just more fun for everyone.
John Swanson July 06, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Parents need to balance their own needs with those of the children. However, parenting requires sacrifice and many times we must do something because it is best for our children. On the other hand, chidren need to learn that they may be the center of their parents universe for a time, but eventually children grow up and must be responsible for their own behavior. As an empty nester, my wife and I enjoy being with our sons doing most anything they want to do. Our sons do know what we enjoy and they often suggest activities we'll enjoy too. Sometimes just "hanging out" together is the best choice.
Frances Egan July 12, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Having children has made me want to do all those things I was bored of again just to see it through her eyes. That's part of the fun of being a parent. It opens doors to new experiences because you are doing them with your child.

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