April 20, 2010

Sibling Rivalry

Alex Skyped me excitedly this morning. As you may know, I have tried to encourage my kids to follow creative and non-academic endeavors. I have exposed them to Irish dance, foreign languages, piano, saxophone, painting, drawing, ceramics, etc. I also encourage sports like football, baseball, track, water polo, as well as academics.

So, as a parent, you always uncover some unintended consequence to your child rearing...

I expected sibling rivalry... However, I figured the rivalry would be in sports and academics, but as it turns out Amanda and Alex are one-upping each other in the arts. First Amanda out did Alex in Irish dance. Amanda is older and more coordinated than Alex. Alex grew much more quickly than her older sister which made coordination a [temporary] problem for her. This visibly irked Alex.

Now, Alex seems to be excelling in ceramics. So today, Amanda told me sheepishly that Alex was much more creative than her.

I could see the mental anguish in Amanda eyes who loves art and sees herself becoming an architect someday. I thought about my response for a moment... Especially, after Amanda had showed me several of her beautiful drawings. Then I figured it out.

Recently, Alex seems to have given herself permission to experiment. She allows herself to try and fail. And if she does fail...she keeps her momentum and picks up where she left off. Amanda, being the oldest child is more controlled, worried about pleasing her parents and afraid of failing. When she fails...she internalizes it and punishes herself. I have to counteract this...

Amanda is definitely artistic, but maybe she needs more encouragement to experiment without being punished by failure. Try and maybe fail...then she can see it is not so bad after all. We all are looking for permission to try...

...That’s the only way can we figure out how to live.


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