03 Dec Raising a child: piano lessons vs. life lessons
I really love surprises, so my husband and I have decided not to find out our baby’s gender.
Given this unknown, people have been asking me whether I have a preference for a boy or a girl. Honestly I answer that I have none; all that I want after the journey it took us to get pregnant is a healthy baby. However, lately I’ve started to put those worries aside and imagine life as a mother. I’ve wondered: what are my expectations for this child? What kind of person do I want he or she to become?
When discussing these questions with my husband, the first thing we talked about was academics.
Was university a done deal? I said yes, my husband said no; which surprised me greatly since he’s the one with the PHD. Then we talked about music lessons. Again, our expectations varied. I said since we are both musicians, I’d like for our child to take piano lessons. My husband’s response: “Only if the kid wants to”. His was a much more realistic ‘wait and see’ vibe which made me think twice about the reasons behind my own expectations. I quickly realized that my love of music and my wish that I’d taken piano lessons as a child were already putting pressure on this little one we haven’t even met yet! What if my son or daughter doesn’t want to play an instrument or join a sports team? What if they want something so different from me that I have yet to even consider it? I decided to think bigger.
Aside from being healthy, what else do I ultimately want for my child? What kind of person do I hope to raise? I started thinking of personal qualities that are important. Here’s what I came up with:
1) Empathy. My parents both worked in psychology related professions, and as a result tried very hard to infuse empathy lessons into many discussions. This quality has helped me in problem solving with friends, family and colleagues. It’s also enabled me to have close relationships with people, which has ultimately made me a happier person.
2) Perspective. Knowing that there are people in the world living very different lives from you is an important lesson. In my experience, teaching children that everything in life is not fair is quite valuable. People have different strengths and weaknesses. Understanding this can help you not sweat the small stuff and to be thankful and appreciative for what you do have.
3) Self reliance. Having the capacity to rely on yourself, to be independent, and comfortable in that state is priceless. The opposite of course is also true, knowing when to lean on others for support.
Naturally, there are a million other things I want for my child as well.
I picked these three because together they will ideally create a content, independent person whose kindness and respect for others will allow them to have many people in their life to give them love and support.