Ignorance Is Bliss

Headstrong daughter doesn’t want to listen to me. She doesn’t care that I had years of experience in the sport. She thinks she knows better. Butting heads hurts. I am tired of fighting with her. But, being the brilliant strategist (manipulator) I am, I convinced her to try something new. My brilliance was evident in my word choice: “I know absolutely nothing about the sport, and promise not to learn anything about it.”

The connection was immediate. Mom not knowing something is relatively unheard of, right? And in a water sport, my territory, even better. Water polo, it turned out, was the perfect combination of everything she loved: swimming, socializing, and taking her aggression out on unassuming rivals.

As mothers, our intuition is to coddle, protect, and shelter our children from the unknown. In this case, I was hoping the unknown would be our salvation. My intuition told me that if I wanted my athletic daughter to find something she really wanted to do, I was going to have to take a back seat in the journey there. I was going to have to let her learn, grow, and develop without any input. Being the headstrong, stubborn, determined child she is, she was going to have to own it all.

Sometimes as a parent, we have to recognize that our kids may actually succeed even more if we don’t become involved. Some kids respond just fine when a parent knows the sport well; others do not. My daughter needed something to own and call hers to bring out that hidden talent, drive, and desire to succeed.

Nearly three years has lapsed since that fateful transition day from swim to water polo. She has definitely found her niche. While I know a little more about polo now, and my words about the importance of swimming are heeded, I make sure that she owns every part of her sport. If she laughs at me when I ask a question, I feel I have succeeded in staying ignorant. And, sometimes, ignorance really is bliss, especially when we’re talking about keeping the bond between mother and teenage daughter strong.


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