So it is no secret that I love to read books. I have devoured them since the time I learned to read. When my classmates in Grade One were still in to the picture books, I was on to the novels. And nothing has changed. I enjoy almost all kinds of books too, from your simple summer beach reads I call them, to travel, thrillers or books that make you reach deep down inside. To me there is nothing more satisfying than curling up with a good read, letting the world fade away and to be able to disappear in to another place. Whether it be to another time, another country or another life, reading takes you places in your mind that you would otherwise never go. It is the ultimate great escape.
Now reading isn't a cheap past time by any means. Books, especially hard covers are a little pricey, so I do try to opt for the used book stores if I can. And I have also tried reading online with my Blackberry Tablet. It's not the same as a real book by any means, but it does allow me to purchase a new book as soon as I am done the last one.
So being the avid reader I am, I had automatically assumed my children would follow suit. They always had access to a full shelf of books to choose from. I read to them when they were young, and I still encourage them to read as often as I can. But turning my children in to readers has proven difficult. The distractions of internet, TV, movies and Video games has prevailed. Even though I time limit these things, reading just doesn't seem to have caught on and I have come to the conclusion that it isn't something you can force on anyone.
At first I felt like somewhat of a failure as a parent. Family members or friends would want to buy them books for Christmas, and I felt too ashamed to tell them they would never be read. I did try to say it once and was met with a disapproving silence, followed by a few sentences of how that couldn't be, I'm just choosing the wrong books, which of course only made me feel worse and I never mentioned it again. And then the books would arrive and on the shelf they would go, collecting dust. I even caught my kids lying to people, saying they had read them because they had caught on to my feelings of failure as a parent and wanted to please me. Not a fine moment.
But now suddenly, everything seems to be changing. My son is reading a book he loves, my daughter is reading constantly and I couldn't be happier. Will it last? I hope so, believe me, my fingers are crossed. I would like to think it has been my amazing influence that has made them finally pick up a book, but I acknowledge this is probably not the case. In fact my nagging at them to read probably did more harm than good. But what I have learned from the whole situation is this. I should never be ashamed as a parent about what my children like to do or not do. It is not a measure of their intelligence or future success if they don't want to read books. And it certainly isn't a measure of mine. I haven't done anything wrong as a parent, and they haven't done anything wrong by not enjoying what I had hoped they would enjoy. And what someone else might think or feel shouldn't and now doesn't matter to me anymore. My children are their own person. In every way. I can only lead by example and hope that whatever they choose in life, for their hobbies, their careers, their friends or their future spouse, it will be something that they chose, for themselves, without my influence. It needs to be whatever pleases and makes them feel joy, happiness and fulfillment. And my own insecurities as a parent, and inevitably my own wishes to please other family members or friends and have them think of me as a good parent, was only showing my kids that I was trying to be someone or something I wasn't to please others. Something I never in a million years want them to do.
So whether my kids read, play music, dance, excel at sports or don't do any of these things at all, I am proud of them. Learning by our mistakes as parents are the greatest lessons we can pass on to our kids. Telling them we are in fact not perfect and do make mistakes( I know, big shock ) is as important as letting them know we love them, unconditionally, no matter what, every day.