Teaching My Kids To Swim Revealed My Parenting Weaknesses

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I love my children and, by the grace of God, my husband and I have managed to keep them alive and thriving. But we frequently feel like other parents just do things better. They throw them birthday parties. Every year! They take them to a gazillion different sports and dance and music lessons. We don’t take our kids to any. And more than anything else, they teach their children how to swim.

A few weeks ago, I took my daughters to a pool party. They’re young enough that everyone was just playing in the kiddie pool. But all of the parents were talking about their children’s swimming abilities. These are parents who have given their kids lessons or have pools or pool memberships. We’ve not taught our children anything and we’re typically in swimming pools just two to three times a year.

But for the last two weeks we were in Mexico at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. And they have a pool. That means they got in the pool three times a day.

Thanks in large part to these super-fantastic floatie things my in-laws got for the girls, they’re now actually doing quite well in the water. But things didn’t start out so well.

I’ve learned a great deal about what not to do these last two weeks. I’m happy to share some of our new found wisdom with you. For instance, as much as your whining child’s constant complaints about not wanting to get wet may be annoying you, dunking her in the water is probably not the best way to get her more comfortable.

If you promise not to dip her underwater any more, go ahead and keep that promise. The years of therapy she’ll go through later to help her rebuild trust with other people are just not worth it.

If your younger child is a natural in the water, happily swimming beneath the surface, diving in off the edge, and comfortably kicking around on her back, these are all wonderful things. But don’t try to encourage the older child to get more comfortable by taunting her that her younger sister is much better at swimming than she is. It’s not a contest.

Actually, while I’m exaggerating a touch in each of these, I think that pitting the two children against each other to see who could do better was a pretty good idea. They both wanted to do better than each other and it pushed them to overcome some of their fears and lack of confidence.

We’re now back in the States and for whatever our faults, it all worked out. They ask to go to the pool every day and they love going underwater and showing off their new swimming skills.

(Photo: Poznyakov/Shutterstock)