Dear parent who asking for help finding bike-riding lessons for your 7-year-old:
There’s a tendency these days to think that by contracting out what used to be basic childhood learning to ‘professionals’ who specialize in it we’re giving our kids a better experience. Learning to swim, cook, sew, stay home alone, ride a bike, throw and catch a ball, grow a garden, develop empathy, build a go-kart, you name it and there are ‘experts’ offering classes and parents willing to sign their kids up.
I think this trend is a sad one, because it undermines confidence and interrupts the flow of knowledge through the generations. It undermines both parental confidence (“how can I possibly teach my child to do ____ if it’s so complicated that people are paying experts to do it?”) and child confidence (“mom and dad don’t believe I can learn this without specialized help”). It produces a new generation of people who believe they won’t be able to pass these skills onto their own kids, because they were taught by specialists themselves. And also, of course, it contributes to the rat-race of over-scheduled kids and double-income cash-strapped parents, all of which reduces the amount of time parents and kids have to spend together.
So here’s my plea — teach your own kid to ride a bike. I know you’ve tried. You’re not done yet. Keep trying. Draw on the wisdom of other parents rather than the supposed expertise of experts. Trust that he will learn. Trust that you can help him. Spend the time with him. Make it a family event to go off to the schoolyard three evenings a week with daddy in tow so that you have the manpower to help the trike-sibling too. Stop for popsicles on the way home to make a special ritual. Create a memory of “that summer when you learned to ride a two-wheeler — remember all those popsicles! Wasn’t that fun!?” Do it with joy, trust, confidence, pleasure and time together with your child.
Contracting out parenting