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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Pushing & Pulling Parents

We are at odds.  Most days, Benedetto and I are on the same page, but when it comes to pushing or pulling the kids, we are at odds.

The Odd Couple.  Yep, that’s us.

We never had any differences of opinion before children.  Now, whoo-whee.

Naturally, I’m “The Bad Guy”.  I believe in pushing kids to do their best.  There.  Arrest me.

Benedetto has more of the laissez-faire, Mediterranean mentality:  “Don’t worry, be happy.”

That should be a crime.

Kids were not created for non-stop fun.  My motto is more along the lines of “We work hard, and THEN, we play.”  No work-ee, no play-ee.

So I’m the ogre.

“Papa, do we have to _______?” they wheedle while I’m away.  I might be in another room and they are sure that Benedetto will side with them.

He does.  Every time.

When I acted as the sole mentor/ tutor/ teacher of our first son, the trains ran on time.  Now that more have been added to the mix, the train is not even on the tracks.  It’s derailed.  It’s  up to me to push and pull the pump trolley.

“Okay, everyone, time to start your homework,” my husband informs the children around 2:30 pm.

Pulling him aside, I inquire why I was giving them “homework”, if they were simply to complete it during school hours.

“I think they’ve done enough school,” he tells me.

“I don’t.  They go until 3:30 and THEN can start their homework.”

“I don’t think so.”

And thus the impasse.

He puts on an educational video and I find the kids sitting on the couch, pillows behind their heads, taking a good nap.

“Excuuuuse me?!” I interrupt.  “Let’s take the pillows away and sit up straight.  Who can tell me what is DNA?”

“Uhhh… it’s a…uh….” one tries.

The others don’t even try.  So much for his method.  This all occurred while I had my first son out for early-morning sports at the crack of dawn.  And I had him conjugating French verbs on the way there.

Petya will begin college next month as he enters Tenth Grade at the age of 14.   Dual-enrollment high school and college, not bad when your native language is not English.  The push and pull method has taken him to certain destinations in life.  There are great expectations and great achievements.  He’s enjoying the challenge and rising to the standard held high before him.  He has free time and friends and is not feeling oppressed under my tyrannical rule.

With him, it’s not so much of a push or pull, but a parental nudge in the right direction.  The others need more of a nuclear explosion to get them moving in any direction.

Thankfully, Benedetto and I are in agreement on 99% of the issues of life.  When it comes to the children….

Ah well, they say opposites attract.

Do you push or pull your kids?



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8 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Sybil says:

    Being a Mom and a home school teacher for 4 children has to be far different than a Mom who sends the children to school outside of home. I can’t relate to that since I didn’t do homeschooling. But, I can see how difficult it has to be regarding getting school work done. And adding a Dad to that who has a different attitude…wowie. On the other hand, for the children, I think the mix evens things out in a way. As far as homework, I never liked seeing the kids have it. I figured 8:30am – 3pm was plenty of time for CHILDREN to be doing academics on a regular basis. To me they needed play time and also time to vegetate and relax. I think their brains are processing when they are relaxing or even sleeping. However I am not saying they should be watching TV or playing video games non-stop daily.

    As far as other push and pull situations, I am adamant but only in some areas. Respect is a huge rule that I don’t compromise on but was willing to listen to how my children felt about something if they want to be polite about it. I don’t like to yell at children just as I don’t like to be yelled at. The few times I have yelled they knew I meant business and right now!

    Are you saying that Petya is ready to begin college work at age 14? I believe that is what you are saying and also that he enjoys the challenges and the expectations and parental nudges. The question might be what if he balked totally at what he saw as pushing beyond what he was comfortable with. Obviously he didn’t, but the risk of it is there for the other children. Then the question enters; what are the consequences of pushing too hard?

    We have one child who pushed herself harder than we ever would have. I think she was born with a briefcase in her hand and a vision of herself as an adult. We have a son who hated school since the day he entered pre-school. He eventually refused to go to high schoolschool before his junior year and went to an independent study program. He became a psychotherapist, head of his department and teaches graduate psychology. Our youngest is starting college and can see herself as a teacher of young children……or a wiper of tables at a fast food restaurant. I’m sure she will choose the finer career but which one is it? lol

    There comes a time , we just have to trust them to step up to the plate and fulfill what they want for themselves and hope it makes them content and able to provide for themselves and a family as needed. Will pushing and pulling help? Within reason is my answer.

    • avatar admin says:

      I like the “within reason”, Sybil. 🙂 It helps to hear your experiences and realize: there’s hope. I think we somehow “balance out” between the two of us as parents, and the kids probably receive something nearing normal with us on both sides of the spectrum-!

      Yes, Petya will be dual-enrolled in high school (homeschool college prep work) and college work, too (only about 6 credit hours). Then maybe some CLEP exams in advanced subjects (science and math) which he’s already completed.

      Our kids for the most part do try… as do we! My husband is probably not as lax as I make him sound, since he’s very competent, himself. I’m probably not as much of a hard-guy as I make myself sound, either. (Alright nix that last sentence.) Our social worker visited us this last week for our second son’s 3rd-year (final!) post-placement report to Russia, and she asked if the kids might want to attend regular school. Would we be disappointed? I said we’d be delighted, lol.

      I have to realize that they are not moi, but the two of us parents love learning and growing. We wanted to instill that in them. We’re just trying to get the children up to grade level which takes time when they’re older and learning English. There are so many gaps in their education, everyday things that are not yet there. I feel like time is against us, yet I try to tell them about many students who take time off, enroll in college in their mid- or late-20s. One of ours is very talkative and compassionate. Others are better at science and technology. Another could probably sell anything to anyone. Yet, none of them have a clear grasp of the possibilities out there, or what might be of particular interest and focus. I wish there were a program out there: “Try a Job for a Day” where you could choose 20 professions and take one month to follow each professional for one day.

  2. avatar Phyllis says:

    With our bios. it was just nudging in the right direction, mostly. And with our boys, as you said, they need a nuclear explosion. : ) I have always aimed high with my kids, even those I taught in sunday school classes and such. Two of my boys have huge gaps in their educations, too. The youngest was just severely delayed but is catching up nicely. He may even surpass 2 of his older brothers. : ) Wow, maybe that would be the motivation for them to “put their noses to the grindstone!”

    • avatar admin says:

      I’m telling you, Phyllis, competition is a BIG deal among these kids. You start with the little things like who received half-a-bite more at any meal, etc. Then it proceeds to who’s taller, who’s better in this sport or activity, etc. Keeps me jumping to have everyone excel in “something”, lol. Today we discussed how what they do TODAY will affect them ten and twenty years from now….

  3. I love your idea about following a different professional every day for a month. The things I wish I would have known before I graduated from high school include 1. If I saved $2000 a year for retirement between the ages of 18 and 25 and never touched it, that would have made a huge contribution towards retiring. When I heard this info (at age 28, naturally); they said it was sufficient to actually retire, but I’m not convinced that’s still true. Anyway, the other thing is: People actually get paid to do stuff that I like doing. People get paid to be librarians. Well, of course they do, but I never actually thought of it. Why not do a unit on different professions and study requirements and job functions for each for a month; just so the kids can see what’s out there. Unless, of course, you’re already doing this unit :).

    I think I do some pushing ( I try to keep it within reason). My particular focus seems to be geography, because the five minutes of geography a week they get in public school is I think, rediculous. And my child will NOT be the one that gets on tv and can’t find the United States on a map. Fortunately I am blessed with a child that finds absolutely everything innately interesting. Her curiousity knows no bounds at this point; why why why? Still, even though she’ll be eight in October. Right now she plans to have a horse ranch (the earning money part of her plan is still a little fuzzy).

    I have to go research college programs offering equine studies now….

    • avatar admin says:

      Wendy, if young adults had an extra $2K/yr. during those ages, they probably could retire-! Right then. Most are thinking of doing their first on-their-own everything: housing, car, schooling, maybe a vacation. But it’s true that time is on their side.

      I read to our kids all the time about different careers and their job descriptions, but the shadowing of an actual profession would mean so much more. I’m just not good at pantomiming these things, lol….

  4. avatar Gwendolyn says:

    COMPETITION? COM.PE.TI.TION. JEALOUSY? Our two (bio sisters, we just celebrated 3 years at home!) are SO good at this that when I woke up at 3 AM today, in a tent with a husband, two kids, two large dogs … and noticed that the surprise Unicorn Pillow Pet that we had bought for younger DD was on the pillow of OLDER DD… I promptly moved it, thinking, “If younger DD wakes up and sees the UPP that SHE wanted on her sister’s pillow, she will cry and moan and say, ‘It’s not fair. V gets EVERYTHING. She gets a cell phone AND she gets the UPP that I wanted!'” So I moved it. A little girl opened her eyes in the 1/4 light, saw the UPP, and her face lit up with joy.

    I don’t usually give in to the ‘she gets everything, I get nothing’ ploy, but that cell phone was a painful transition for younger DD. And older DD has sent / received 100 messages in 24 hours. Painful learning for DH, who thought she would not reach 25 in a month, and priced the plan accordingly! LOL.

    • avatar admin says:

      Yes, you have to limit the phone/text plan, Gwendolyn. As Wendy mentioned, your DD needs to be saving for retirement NOW. If she’s not stashing four figures by the time she hits two figures in age, she’ll be crying over more than her Unicorn Pillow by the time she reaches her 70s.

      Personally, camping makes me want to cry… I’ll have to write about that… maybe I didn’t have the right pillow… I don’t think I remembered to bring a pillow… we may be on to something here….

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