Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Out of Tune

Co-parenting with Madhubby is hard enough, but co-parenting with my ex-husband is nearly impossible. At least Madhubby listens to me. He sees our children on a regular enough basis that he is actually in tune with their feelings and can provide much needed support to them (and me) when called upon to do so. My ex-husband is not nearly so great a father, which is one of the reasons he's my ex-husband.

For years he has not-so-secretly harbored fantasies of Lizzie becoming a concert pianist. When she was in the womb, his name choice for her was Mendelssohn (we'll call her Mindy, he said). As soon as he was able, he enrolled her in private piano lessons, which she has dutifully attended for the past five years. Of course, he never bought her a piano, which was required after her first year of lessons, because he never had enough money. Oh, he had money to spend on new tattoos, new cars, and shiny new trinkets but a necessary accoutrement for her continued learning and growth? Nope, he couldn't afford it. So, my mother and aunt pitched in and bought Lizzie a piano.

As Lizzie has gotten older, her interest in piano has waned. She prefers violin and I support her interest. Her father does not. He is pressuring her to practice the piano more, play in more piano recitals, compete in more piano competitions and, frankly, Lizzie has reached her breaking point.

The final straw for me came the other night when he because frustrated with me because I refused to push our daughter to continue an activity she hates. I will not do it even though he claims allowing her to "quit" would be ruinous. I just don't see it his way - never have - because I know two important things:
  • Kids should retain their right to choose within certain limits; and
  • People are not static
My ex-husband thinks if we allow Lizzie to quit piano, then she will never take it up again. I see Lizzie has exercising her right to choose. She is a smart and talented girl who is quite capable of deciding, after five years of doing something, whether that activity is one she would like to continue. In five years time, she may feel differently, but right now piano is on the "no" list. But, she would love violin lessons. However, her father will only pay for them if she continues her weekly two-hour piano lesson as well.

What I can't seem to make him understand is that pushing our daughter this hard to do something she hates is causing her stress and damaging his relationship with her. And really what else am I to do but throw my hands up in disgust and withdraw her from lessons because, you see, I do listen to my child and, unlike her father, I actually want to her to be happy.

1 comment:

Proto Attorney said...

If he's so passionate about piano, perhaps he should take the lessons himself. :>

Definitely quit the lessons but insist that she still practice some so she doesn't lose her hard-earned skills. I got seriously burned out on violin lessons as a child and then quit playing. Then I started taking lessons again as an adult, and quit playing again! So frustrating to have to start over.