There is a giant caveat to this idea, however, and it’s this: if the goals are Ryan’s, as opposed to our goals for him, it completely changes the equation. Ryan set a goal to get stronger this summer, and achieved it through daily work and dedication. He has a goal to play hockey in high school and is attacking it in the same way: by diligently practicing the skills at which he needs to improve.
There is a significant event coming up at the end of this school year for which we would love Ryan to take part with his classmates. Veronica and I have discussed it, but only briefly, almost as if we don’t want to discuss that which makes us uncomfortable. If it were today, he probably wouldn’t take part. But it’s not today, and June is a long way off. Lots can happen between now and then.
Yesterday, for the first time, Ryan’s attitude towards the event showed signs of changing to the point where he might make it one of his goals to take part. He’s gone from outright dismissiveness to mild curiosity to (now) possible interest.
From what we know of our son, if this becomes something he wants to do, he will find a way to make it work. We will help him get there, of course. We might even give a gentle push in that direction. But we have learned that he has to be invested in a goal before a push from us, no matter how gentle or firm, is going to matter.
From experience, many times over, we know that pushing him to pursue one of our goals for him is a recipe for frustration and failure. Whether it’s riding a bike, or learning to control a habit or behavior that made us uncomfortable, none of these saw progress until they mattered to Ryan. And once they did, the development came quickly.
So I will hope, and encourage, and maybe even nudge, Ryan in the direction of this school event. We will do whatever we can to help nourish his interest, and if it grows, we will involve all the necessary people to give the support that will make it possible.
But only if it matters to him.
It’s a lesson learned through lots of trial and error, emphasis on the latter.