You Can’t Force It

It would be wonderful if your kids shared all your interests…but unless you get extremely lucky, that’s probably not going to happen. The writer Rich Cohen, for instance, loves hockey. Sadly, his second born does not. As he writes in his wonderful book Pee Wees, “getting him into the gear was like getting a dog into a sweater. His arms went straight, his legs turned stiff, and he stared at me with hatred.”

Of course, we have the power to force our kids to do this stuff against their will…but to what end? Sure, a small percentage of the time they might grow to like it, but is that worth the risk? And even if they do turn out to be good at it, how will you ever know that it was the right call? What if they actually would have been happier doing something else? Maybe the talent you’re seeing on the soccer field or with their law degree would have been even greater if applied to something they chose.

After many miserable trips to the ice rink with his son, Cohen eventually wised up. “I finally realized that you can’t make a person do what they don’t want to do, especially if it’s your own kid,” he writes. “You can’t tell them what to care about, be interested in, or love. They come into the world hardwired. The most you can do is clear the path. There is no invention, just discovery.”

As it happens, Cohen’s youngest turned out to love the sport. It just goes to show, you never know. Sometimes you have the right message, it’s just for the wrong kid. Which should tell you: it’s about them first, and your own desires second.

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