hanging up her dancing shoes…

if you follow me on instagram, then this is old news. but i wanted to talk a bit more about this here.

to those who don’t know – my oldest daughter kiana, “retired” {for lack of a better word} from dance six weeks ago. after devoting most of her life to dance, 12 years to be exact. yes, she is only fourteen {almost fifteen} but my petit woman had given hours and hours, weeks, months, and years to rehearsals. she was committed. she stopped.

the choice to stop was something she had been deliberating for the past couple of years. after a lot of thought, and a few tears, she is taking all of her good memories, experiences, and lessons from dance and moving on. she has other plans for her life.

yet, this moment – or moments. while she was deciding what to do. i didn’t know what to do. isn’t parenting such an unknown territory most of the time? husband and i first thought, “she can’t do that. she can’t just quit” we know her potential. that seems logical, right? we’ll just tell her she can’t stop dancing.

then the more i thought about her decision, the more i knew this wasn’t the first time she’d thought about this, the more i had to breathe deeply and realize we had to support her… do we persuade our children to become who we want them to be? is that fair? is that being a good parent?

self reflection is so very much a part of these parenting moments. i have thought about why this was so hard, what i could have done to have a different outcome. we chose to move to boston which i think greatly impacted kiana’s decision, and i don’t regret that decision at all, even though it may have made this phase of her life a little more challenging. i’m constantly wondering what things we can do to help smooth out her teenage years, and we are trying lots of ideas–some our own, and some wonderful suggestions of friends. the thing is, there are a hundred billion ways to raise a child–to nourish them, to teach them to think on their own, to instill confidence, and independence, to show them kindness, to challenge them to be respectful, to educate them, to help them develop their talents, to show them the world – and to encourage them to love all it has to offer. and when you choose a way to do these things–a way that fits and feels good for your family and your child–i think it’s only natural to wonder if maybe one of the 99,999,999,999 other ways might have worked better.

i have never been very good at forcing my kids to do things. forcing them to go to dance class, forcing them to practice piano, forcing them to go to church, forcing them to eat certain foods they repeatedly dislike. i try to encourage and encourage and encourage with a huge amount of positive fuel, and occasionally bribe reward them for good behavior or reaching a particularly hard goal.

but, in this situation i am always going to question myself if i’ve done the right thing. i know kiana is happy with her decision, and has a long life ahead of herself to find who she should be. to find all her other passions. she is an amazing kid.

as a parent – have you ever watched your child have an amazing talent and then decide to not nurture that talent? it’s so hard.

***

in this post i mentioned that the blog-community lacks in the teenage parenting department. after a little more thought, i’ve decided it’s challenging to write/post about our teenagers because they are reading! they are in our community. we can write/talk/blog about babies, toddlers, and young children so easily because they don’t know it’s going on! i feel like the hardest phase of parenting, the phase that presents the most challenges – we must remain silent. thoughts?

{picture by me, i literally hung-up kiana’s last pair of pointe shoes in her room…}

13 responses to “hanging up her dancing shoes…

  1. Thank you for sharing, I agree with you about not forcing our kids to do something. However, often my actions don’t match this belief. It’s something I need to work on so my kiddos will still like me in the end! I think you are an amazing mom and you inspire me through your posts to work on my mothering skills. 🙂

  2. i happen to be going thru this same thing right now–so your post was perfect me today! my son has been playing soccer since he was 4 (he’s now 14), he played recreation/city leage soccer and then we transitioned to competitive soccer the past 3 years. now he’s wanting to play football and put away his soccer boots. ack!!

    he’s been waiting a long time to play football and now the opportunity is here. i had some of the same thoughts as you. my biggest was “after all these years i sat on the sidelines in the cold/heat/snow/sleat/rain watching, racing to/from practice, etc etc” and now he’s decided he’s done…but what about me?? i invested my time and energies into this too…what about my decision??

    he LOVES soccer and has made some great friends throughout the years, had some good (and bad) coaches…but…it’s time to move on–i can feel it. but am i ready sit through the cold/heat/sleat/snow rain on a metal bench watching him play football–you bet i am and i’ll learn the sport and love watching him play succeed/faulter just like i did watching him through soccer.

    there are somethings–like church, piano, read, chores, etc that i won’t let him give up at this point…i think/hope/pray he’ll thank me later in life for insisting he do these things–i know i did because my parents insisted–and do it with love.

    sorry, i think my thoughts are probably random but i just wanted to share because again, your post hit a spot with me today. thank you!!

  3. jane, this post resonates with me, but especially the end. teenagers! i never really blog about my step-parenting as it relates to the teenagers which, FOR SURE, is the most challenging area of it. people hardly remember we have a son named jordan because he’s never on the blog. it’s hard to explain how he’s at a really tough age right now for both steve and i — i worry i will come off as insensitive (but, on the other side, i worry people think i’m purposefully keeping him out of it! not true–he’s not really interested in being on it)… or that he will read it (he does check into my blog occasionally)… but, yes! it’s the area of parenting i could use the most help… or even those, “yes, i resonate with this!” comments from other parents of teenagers…

    tough stuff.

  4. While I’ve never experienced what you’re going through, I truly admire both of you for supporting Kiana’s decision and encouraging her to pursue other passions. Who knows if she’ll end up dancing again someday? Regardless, she’s going to be happy and feel fulfilled in whatever she sets her mind to and that’s what’s most important right? All the best to her!

  5. I don’t have teens yet, but I remember making a similar decision in my youth. (Which I’ve never regretted.)

    The great thing about talented people is that they tend to be talented at many things. Odds are it was her hardwork, determination and practice that took her from “a natural” to supernatural. And she will probably do the same thing with something else – something that excites her even more.

    Or she may regret it. But sometimes regrets can be our greatest teachers. Because one day when she wants to quit something else she’ll think, “Not again.”

    In short, you did the right thing, Mama, even if it’s the wrong thing.

  6. It’s hard to be a parent. It’s hard to know the “right” things to do for our children. You and Dusty are to be applauded for raising smart kids. We all strive to teach our children principles and values but I think it’s equally important to teach our children HOW to think not just WHAT to think. Good job momma. Xoxo

  7. Jane, I loved this post. I quit blogging for the reason you discussed in your closing paragraph. Having three teenagers means that my life is consumed with the challenges that raising teens presents, but because many of these challenges are too personal or too private, I felt like I couldn’t write about them. Not just that I couldn’t write about them, but that I don’t have the right to. Does that make sense?

    Because I felt like I couldn’t write about them, I felt like I wasn’t being very authentic in my writing. Much of what was on my mind was off limits for the blog and so I decided to step away, and for me, that was the right decision. Now, I am trying to journal to document this time in my life, but I don’t enjoy it as much as blogging.

    As for your experience with your teenager, I do understand. A couple of my children have chosen to quit something that they’ve invested time and I’ve invested money in. It was hard and frustrating for me as their parent, but at the same time I was proud of them for putting so much thought and deliberation into their decision. They also had very good reasons for quitting which were hard to argue with.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I have very few friends with teenagers, and find it hard to relate my life to mothers with younger children. I believe that all stages of parenting are difficult, just in very different ways 🙂

  8. While I was reading about Kiana ‘Hanging up her up her dancing shoes’ I was anxious to read what amazing things this girl will be doing next.

    The hours you and Kiana put into dancing are not wasted. They will help her to excel the future. I understand what you’re going through however I also understand what Kiana is going through. My daughter excelled in dance. She is no longer dancing but is now interviewing for medical school and is an outstanding yoga instructor. She was recently featured at the Georgetown Lululemon store in Washington D.C. When one door closes another one opens.

    The best quote I recommend for parenting is by Robert A. Heinlein, “Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy.”

    I also recommend Kiana takes up yoga. Dancers excel at it.

  9. This story is exactly like me- When I was 16 I gave up dance because I was exhausted with everything. My parents just let me do it as well…I regret it now (13 years later) because it’s something I really loved and I didn’t even keep doing it as a hobby afterwards. It’s hard to start something, like dance, once you stop. You should remind her to keep it as a hobby so she isn’t disappointed at her decision later.

  10. Great post! Its never easy to see a child move on. But often times they are ready long before they every tell us. When my son stopped playing baseball I think it was harder on my husband than it was on my son (he still looks longingly out the window every time we pass a baseball field!!). I insist that my kids stay active, but could care less what they do. Its too expensive and too time consuming for them not to be passionate about what they are doing. Childhood is for exploration and I am all for that.

    As a mom of teens and a high school teacher, I also completely agree that there are not enough blogs/forums/communities related to dealing with teens. They are a unique/wonderful breed and we can use all the help we can get.

    On a personal note…where did you get the bench at the foot of your daughters bed. Its beautiful!

  11. Thank you for posting this. Thank you for your honest thoughts. I just recently experienced this heartbreak with my very own 15 year old…who was an AMAZING cheerleader. She is and was truly talented and we had dreams of watching her on the sidelines at college games in just a couple of years. However; she too decided to hang up her cheer shoes a couple of weeks ago. She wants to do different things and has great plans, but we have worked for years with tumbling classes, dance classes, hours and hours of practice not to mention the money invested. It has been hard to watch. Hard to swallow.
    But, as other people have mentioned….these kiddo’s know what it’s like to put in the hard work, and they will just put that ambition somewhere else in the world. And as far as your Kiana goes…she will be amazing…just like her Mama.

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