By Richard Hsu
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Parenting Is an Art

Two stories from the past weekend:


Aiden goes to catechism class on Saturday mornings. He doesn't like catechism classes but he knows he will have to attend and learn just like all the other things he has to by our choice. He complained of headache and nausea when I tried to wake him. He didn't want to get up. It does take effort and few calls to wake him up normally but him complaining of headache or nausea is unusual so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and let him stay in bed longer and skip the catechism class.

After sometime, he did throw up while in bed and wasn't well for the first half of the day so I felt relieved that I didn't force him to go to the class.

By afternoon, he recovered, played, and ate normally the rest of the day.


He has swimming lessons on Sunday mornings. He doesn't like swimming either and I would wager he prefers catechism classes to swimming. He didn't want to get up again but this time, he just said he didn't "feel" like swimming. Keeping in mind that he was unwell the previous morning, I did consider letting him go back to sleep but decided otherwise. I made him get up assuming he was just trying to avoid swimming.

When I reached YMCA where he learns to swim, he repeated the same thing. He didn't "feel" like swimming and didn't want to get out of the car. This is unusual1. I did spend sometime to think about it not sure what to do. The unpleasant image of him throwing up in the pool with 30 others was on my mind. On the other hand, if he was alright but just avoiding swim lessons, then letting him skip would set a bad precedent. He would be encouraged to try the same for other things he disliked.

After maybe a minute or so of thinking while still in the parked car, I decided to make him go. We got out of the car, went up to the pool, and he did his lesson without any issue. He seemed fine (as fine as he normally is at the swimming pool).

He was his usual self the rest of the day: playing, asking for things, watching TV etc.

Two scenarios, two different decisions, both turned out well but I can't honestly say I was confident of either of my decisions. It could both have turned out to be unwise. I don't know for sure what it was that worked. Maybe it was experience, maybe it was instinct, maybe it was the "connection" between a parent and a child, or maybe it was luck. I don't know. I can give countless examples of things I did or said that I regretted later but no one likes a story with a bad ending.

Parenting is an art.

  1. Usually, we are rushing out of the car and running up the stairs to the changing room because we are late