Meddling Aunty?

Dear Diary,

I recently spent time at catching up with one of my little nieces, aged five, and she left me with a dilemma that I haven’t been able to get out of my head.

My niece has a wonderfully balanced range of interests managing to be simultaneously a girly princess and a tom boy. She spoke to me on the telephone about how she wants to do kung fu but her mum doesn’t buy her kung fu outfit (first step to the classes) despite repeated asking. My niece is very spoilt so she doesn’t understand why this request is not being acted upon. I know the hint was for me to intervene and ask her mother to get it or for me to buy it for her but I feel uncomfortable doing either of these two options.

I already mentioned to my sister-in-law how good my niece is at football and how she should be going to an after school club to improve herself and get practice but this was met with unsure agreement so now I don’t feel I can raise the kung fu issue.

If I lived near my niece I would speak to her parents to take responsibility for picking her up and dropping her off myself but I live on the other side of the country. What do I say to my adorable little niece? She very obviously has a natural talent for sport but maybe her mum knows her better and thinks it’s just a passing phase.

Bubbly

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3 Comments to “Meddling Aunty?”

  1. Hi Bubbly,

    Parenting is so difficult. Our children go through hobbies and past times on a weekly basis and it is so hard to encourage them all.

    In my experience, children are often encouraged in the things parents think they should be doing. Sport in Asian households is a difficult one especially if you are a girl. I would love to see more girls being encouraged to participate in sport as it provides many disciplines from team work to health and fitness.

    As a child, I played hockey but had to give it up as I needed to look after my brother after school. Sports was always enabled for my brother but I spent my time in the kitchen with my mum. They were the ideals of my parents.

    I hope your niece does get to play football if she really wants to and is good at it. However, meddling can be dangerous and my suggestion would be to check in on your niece and see if she is still enjoying football in a few weeks. Then comment to your sister-in-law on how good she is.

    What do others think

    Bunty

  2. I read your article with interest as Radio 4 recently did a programme that tried to investigate why you don’t see many (if any) Asian men in football teams. I think Asian parents still don’t see the value of playing sport and are much happier seeing their kids with books, books and more books.

    I was a very sporty child and my mum discouraged it at every opportunity. I used to be the captain of a girls’ football team and was selected as the only girl to play in the boys’ team. What a nightmare it turned out to be. My mum was mortified that I was running around in shorts with boys and did everything to stop me continuing to play – this included the dreaded Silent Treatment. I also had to deal with stupid boys who were annoyed to see a girl in their team and would ping my bra at every opportunity, hard tackle me to the ground and arrange practice sessions without me.

    I wish this story had a Bend it Like Beckham ending, but it doesn’t – in the end, I quit the team.

    Interestingly, now that I have been to university, have a stable job etc my mum LOVES to hear of my sporting achievements, which includes playing golf and tennis (in shorts!) with men. I think if you have one parent that is from a foreign country and that foreign country is poor then it makes the parent obsess about school grades because their value of education is intrinsically linked to what they think are Safe Jobs – medicine, law, accounting. My mum’s dislike of my participation in sport as a child was not sexist or irrational. To her, every second I was playing sport, I was one second further away from being a doctor, lawyer, accountant……

  3. I used to love sports, but I was never very good at it. I was always very enthusiatic about going to clubs and participating, but to be honest, I was much better at more academic things. In fact, I was almost always the last person to be picked for a team… not a good sign…

    I think my mother could see this while at the time, I just couldn’t. She would encourage me to go to a new sports club, but then something would happen for her to realise it wasn’t for me, even though I couldn’t necessarily see it.

    For example, my mother sent both my brother and I to swimming lessons at the same time. We started together in the beginners class. After 8 weeks, by brother was promoted to the intermediate class, while I was left behind. Another 8 weeks later, I was still in the beginners class, and by then my brother was in the advanced class – clearly, I am not a natural swimmer. I wanted to continue, but by then my mother realised I was no good at it. That didn’t stop me from telling everyone that would listen that my mum was stopping me from going swimming.

    Looking back, I still think she should have let me continue, but I can understand why my mother stopped me. Going back to you niece, maybe her mother does know better?

    And about the kung fu outfit, to try the classes out, she won’t need a suit. I did Judo for months when I was a kid (my mother put a stop to that too – I was the only girl over the age of 12 and there was too much body on body contact with boys for her liking)and I went without a suit for the first few sessions fine.

    My brother (the same one who beat me at swimming) was really bad at trying out sports, getting the kit, and then almost immediately never playing that sport again. He had so much kit for different sports it became a running joke amongst us siblings (and still is!).

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