Thursday, September 10, 2009
Typically parents want to offer their child every opportunity to discover and develop their talents. But when is enough enough for an older adopted teen, and how do you avoid the self-esteem issues that come from giving up. Jane has prepared another thought provoking message for those adopting older children:
When do you reach the “enough already” with your adopted teen?
Our daughter had flute lessons in Bogotá when we were awaiting sentencia, and then continued with flute in junior high school. Since she had no musical knowledge, she had to start from the beginning, learn how to read music, how to count, etc. She didn’t mind practicing, but her progress was slow. Compared to the other kids in band who had taken instrument lessons since 6th grade, she was far behind. Even with weekly private lessons, we knew that she would never catch up in this particular instance. By the end of 8th grade, she decided that she didn’t want to continue playing the flute, so she dropped it and moved on to something else.
Trying and failing, or just not measuring up to the required standards is a tough life lesson for all of us. It’s especially hard for your teen who has not had all of the cultural advantages of a middle class American upbringing.
I remember all of the extracurricular activites that were offered to our biological children when growing up: soccer, piano, saxophone, volleyball, dance, etc. Our kids did a lot of things after school and on weekends. They were successful at a few. Those things that they didn't enjoy were dropped.
When N. dropped flute, we tried to couch the experience in terms of trying new things, and finding where your strengths lie. Your child, however, might already have some self-esteem issues, and failure to perform can make it even harder for her. N. tends to want to please us and was reluctant to admit failure and pack it in. We had to reassure her that it's OK not to be perfect, or even LIKE everything you try.
The flute reared its ugly head yet again this school year. Because N’s new school is so small, and because she indicated on her enrollment form that she had taken flute before, the band teacher urged her to join the band. Since she is accustomed to following directions, she joined, even though I knew that this would be a huge struggle for her. After only a week, N. came home frustrated and confused. She couldn’t keep up with the other flautist who has been playing for 5 or 6 years. The band teacher’s suggestion to N. was for her to take private lessons . We told N. that she gave it a good try, but that there was no reason for her to have to struggle with this again. She dropped band, and we can tell that it is a big relief for her.
We spent three summers allowing N. to try out various camps. She excels in pottery and brings home lovely bowls and vases that make her proud. I've taught her how to knit and now on weekends, she and I are fixtures at our local yarn store: she is currently working on a lace shawl. We are pleased and relieved that she has found crafts that she is good at and feels good about. Who knows what else will appeal to her later on? We’ll keep seeking.
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