Parenting is an all consuming job.
If you’re reading this then I’m willing to bet you’re a parent who takes that job seriously and tries to be the best parent you can be.
Being a Suzuki parent can be especially intense sometimes, because we’re asked to interact with our children so closely, to understand them well (when sometimes they do things no one can understand), and to help them play complicated instruments well.
Unless you also homeschool, this may the closest you work with your child on a daily basis.
Sometimes it’s not for the faint of heart.
Sometimes we need to take deep breaths and remind ourselves why we’re doing it.
And hopefully many times its also full of laughter, proud moments and exciting milestones that you helped your child arrive at.
As a grown up Suzuki kid myself –
I can tell you that all that intense interaction, when done in a healthy supportive way, creates a really close relationship between the student and practicing parent.
It teaches our children how to be goal setters and achievers.
It helps them learn to tackle other milestones coming their way.
In our culture
we tend to be in a hurry to teach independence. We want our kids to do it themselves as early as they can. We’re relieved when they can start to do things themselves.
And rightfully so!
But, I would challenge you
to keep engaging with your child as they practice.
When they’re a teenager they may shrug and say they don’t care if you listen to them or show up to their recital, but I realized with my own teens they really do care (they just may never tell us that). Even when they don’t “need” you to be there, your presence shows your support.
Long before those teen years as you practice with your child really be present with them.
Put away cell phones, work and other distractions and give your child your full attention. It can be so hard to do this but there is really just a short window of time that your child wants and needs your full attention. Being fully present is the number one gift you can give them.
“The greatest gift you can give your child is your presence.”
– Alice Joy Lewis
I notice a big difference in families I work with who are really present in lessons
I would bet they are equally engaged in practice sessions at home.
I see a high correlation between student progress and fully present parents.
Do they take more careful notes because they are so engaged in the lesson?
Maybe they have a better understanding of the way their child learns so they tailor what they are doing more closely to what their child needs?
They may have a different working relationship with their child because the child can see how engaged they are.
I don’t know the answer to why this is but I do see it in action in my studio all the time.
I recently came across a great article by Carrie Williams Howe, a mother working to be more present with her children and family (you can read it here). She admits that even though she knows the years go by fast and she should be more present with her children it is still a struggle.
She made a recommendation that I love which is to make a ritual out of connecting with your kids. Don’t just know you should do it, create habit or routine around it so it becomes more natural.
Her family made a ritual around the dinner table of no distractions and engaging with one another.
How can we do the same with practice?
Putting away work and devices and maybe making our favorite hot beverage can be a good start.
We can work to get into a routine, or habit that signals to our brain (and our children) that we are going to give our full attention to them our child and put other things aside for a few minutes.
Beginning with just 10 minutes of undivided attention to our children is a huge gift.
If your child is young and has short practice sessions this is a great time to start. You are really giving your child a huge gift when you can be there fully present with them. What do they need to enjoy learning? What do they need to begin to focus for longer stretches of time? What can you do to help them engage with the assignments from the teacher for the week?
What can you do so your child feels right there with them for those few minutes of practice and treasures the time alone with you?
Alice Joy Lewis goes on in her quote about being present to say: “It’s really a gift to you as well as your child. It’s a way of knowing someone that is pretty special. When parents are not distracted the opportunity for progress to occur is great.”
It really is the #1 gift you can give your child!