Getting Son interested in swimming(LONG) - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 22 Old 05-02-2010, 10:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am a SAHM and we are fortunate enough to have a large home with an in ground swimming pool. Here is the problem, my son has no interest at all in swimming. He is 13 and my daughter is 15 and they fight about it all the time.

Some background, for a long time, my son was afraid of water but we let it go because we thought he'd grow out of it. 2 years ago when it was obvious that wouldn't happen, we tried to get his cousin, 22 at the time, to teach him a couple of years ago, but his cousin's "drill sargeant" methods didn't work, so he didn't learn.

After that, I started mandating our son go into the pool whenever my daughter did. Although he did what he does what he is told, it's a big fight every time I wanted him to go in the pool. I thought if he'd wade in the shallow end, he'd get used to the water and want to know how to swim.

At the end of the last school year, I had a swimming party for his class, and all he did was go up into his room and stay there. I admit I did ask him if he wanted the party and he said no, but I thought having the party for him might get him more interested in the pool.

I did eventually find him lessons and he has learned to swim, but he still won't voluntarily go into the pool and go swimming every day. Before he took lessons, he asked me if he'd have a choice of whether or not he wanted to swim from then on and I of course told him yes because I thought once he got into the pool started swimming, he'd find it fun and want to swim, but he didn't so I still have to force it on him.

Another summer is starting and I don't want to deal with another summer of these constant fights between me, him, and his sister. His sister knows the rule is when she swims he has to swim too, and reminds him of it, but he still refuses to accept it. He also says his sister will sometimes deliberately decide to go swimming when he's doing something he likes to do, just to take him away from it.

I'm also concerned about him not getting enough exercise. He did used to ride bikes and play with his friends, but they would never let his sister participate in their activities, so I had to pretty much ban him from those things and from them because it was upsetting his sister too much.

My husband thinks the answer to this is simple, deny him everything, no TV, no music, no talking to friends, no leaving the house, just getting the pool everyday to build himself up to a decent level. He thinks if we do this, our son will have no choice but to learn to love swimming like everyone else. I'm desparate here not sure what to do.

Help.

MKH
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#2 of 22 Old 05-02-2010, 11:10 AM
 
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Ok, I am not a parent of teens, but wondered a few things.

It seems like your daughter is calling the shots here. She gets mad because he has his own friends, so you take the friends away. If she wants to swim, you make him stop what he's doing to accomodate her. It's to the point where you are thinking about stripping him of all privileges over swimming? Sounds like he is getting a raw deal.

I would be pretty darn upset and sullen too if I were him.

He has swimming skills, which is important, IMO, so leave him alone about getting in the water. Not everyone is comfortable in the water. Let him hang with his friends and be his own person. Let your daughter have one girlfriend to swim to give your son a break.

He is never going to get interested in swimming if you force him.
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#3 of 22 Old 05-02-2010, 11:12 AM
 
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I don't understand why he has to swim. There won't be many times in life when not swimming is going to hold him back or anything. And I think a 15 year old is old enough to swim alone, right? I know I was swimming alone at 15. I would think your daughter would like to swim without the drama of having to bring along a reluctant, miserable sibling.

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Another summer is starting and I don't want to deal with another summer of these constant fights between me, him, and his sister.
I think the answer is let him do his thing and let her swim when she wants to swim and otherwise drop it.

If you're worried about his not getting enough exercise, try to get him to ride his bike or something. Swimming isn't the only activity.

I must be missing something here because I can't see why this is even an issue.
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#4 of 22 Old 05-02-2010, 11:27 AM
 
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Originally Posted by MKH9000 View Post
Here is the problem, my son has no interest at all in swimming. He is 13 and my daughter is 15 and they fight about it all the time.
so tell them to stop it. He doesn't need to swim and it's not her business.

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it's a big fight every time I wanted him to go in the pool.
so stop fighting with your son. Let it go. Get over it. It doesn't matter if he gets in the pool. It really doesn't.

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nows the rule is when she swims he has to swim too, and reminds him of it, but he still refuses to accept it. He also says his sister will sometimes deliberately decide to go swimming when he's doing something he likes to do, just to take him away from it.
your family has serious control issues. The problem isn't your son.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#5 of 22 Old 05-02-2010, 11:28 AM
 
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First of, Welcome to MDC. The most helpful advice I have learned here is that as parents it is our job to guide our children through life trying to instill in them confidence and self esteem, not to punish or control their lives. I do not "force" anything on my child unless it is a true safety issue. It is important to respect the child, whether they are 2 or 14, and allow them to have free choice over their own bodies.

I was shocked reading your post. I couldn't believe this was all about whether or not a 13 year old son went swimming. He is 13 years old. If he doesn't want to swim, why make him?? How would you feel if someone made you do something you didn't feel comfortable doing? You told him before he took the swim lessons, he would have a choice of whether or not he wanted to swim from then on and when he didn't chose what you wanted him to do you took away his choice. You lied to him. Then knowing he didn't want to swim, you organized a swim party with his entire class and then were bothered that he stayed in his room the entire time. What did you think was going to happen?

If you can say it is bc of exercise then why did you "ban" him from bike time with his friends? It is very unfair to not allow him to hang out with friends because he didn't want his 15 year old sister, who he already has resentment towards, going with him. And you say it is because it made his sister too upset. Really? How do you think he feels? Why do her feelings get considered but not his?

Why does he have to go swimming if she does? She can chose to go swimming but he isn't allowed to chose not to. That sounds like a very unfair double standard.

I would tell your husband no one has to "learn to love" anything and forcing him to do something he clearly does not enjoy is not going to help the situation. It is swimming not a life or death situation. Why do you feel the need to control him that much?

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#6 of 22 Old 05-02-2010, 11:37 AM
 
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I'm also concerned about him not getting enough exercise. He did used to ride bikes and play with his friends, but they would never let his sister participate in their activities, so I had to pretty much ban him from those things and from them because it was upsetting his sister too much.

My husband thinks the answer to this is simple, deny him everything, no TV, no music, no talking to friends, no leaving the house, just getting the pool everyday to build himself up to a decent level. He thinks if we do this, our son will have no choice but to learn to love swimming like everyone else. I'm desparate here not sure what to do.
They're 13 and 15. They SHOULD have different groups of friends. My just-younger sister and I are 21 months apart in age, and at 15 (or really, at any age past about 6) I would have never expected that her group of friends do anything that included me. Banning your son from playing with his friends rather than telling his sister to suck it up and go find herself something else to do is rather twisted.

And banning your kid from doing everything to try to force him to "love" swimming isn't going to result in him loving swimming. It's going to lead him into having a rather understandable resentment toward you.
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#7 of 22 Old 05-02-2010, 01:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
so tell them to stop it. He doesn't need to swim and it's not her business.



so stop fighting with your son. Let it go. Get over it. It doesn't matter if he gets in the pool. It really doesn't.



your family has serious control issues. The problem isn't your son.
I agree. Let it go! Let them live their own lives without having to involve each other. Let them be individuals. Most 15yo's do not want to hang out with their 13yo siblings all the time, especially if they're not the same sex.
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#8 of 22 Old 05-02-2010, 01:20 PM
 
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He thinks if we do this, our son will have no choice but to learn to love swimming like everyone else.
He's wrong. My dh is 54 years old and grew up ON the Mediterranean Sea... literally, he grew up with the sea in his back yard. He HATES swimming. Can float, barely, and never learned to swim. Not EVERYONE likes to swim. There is *nothing* wrong with that.

Your son has a right to swim or not swim. If you hated <insert activity>, wouldn't you hate it if you husband said that you HAD to do said activity every day?

I'm feeling so sad for your son. I can't imagine how he must feel that at 13, he's still being forced to do something that he hates because his parents demand it. It's heart-breaking to think of how it must make him feel. Please let him swim or not swim as he wishes.
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#9 of 22 Old 05-02-2010, 01:26 PM
 
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I, too, do not understand why he *has* to swim. I'm sure there are activities that you do not like doing as well.
If you're concerned about him getting more exercise, encourage him to do something that he likes to do, rather than something that you'd like him to do.

Personally, I hate swimming. I'm a very good swimmer, but I find it boring and the water stings my eyes. Even if I had a pool, I would not swim. I get exercise in other ways.

Your daughter is old enough to swim by herself, and it seems she's using this battle to try to control her brother (I have a brother who's two years younger, and would've done the same thing). Tell her it's none of her business whether or not he swims. And instead of curbing your son's activities with his father, tell your husband that you want your daughter to be included sometimes, too. Seems like an easy fix.

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#10 of 22 Old 05-02-2010, 01:41 PM
 
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I understand mandating swimming lessons when you have a pool at home. I did the same thing because we live near a lake, it's a safety issue. But otherwise, leave the poor kid alone.

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#11 of 22 Old 05-02-2010, 03:48 PM
 
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I think that as long as he CAN swim, and CAN get out of a pool or lake and can safely be in or around water, I wouldn't care if he ever got in a pool again.

If he couldn't swim, or be safe, I'd probably push him to learn. But, you can't make him love it.


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I'm also concerned about him not getting enough exercise. He did used to ride bikes and play with his friends, but they would never let his sister participate in their activities, so I had to pretty much ban him from those things and from them because it was upsetting his sister too much
I'm mean. I also wouldn't give a rat's tail if it upset his sister. I assume the world doesn't revolve around her. I want my kids to be happy with whatever they choose. If one kid can't be happy unless she's tagging along with her brother, then I'd address the unhappy child's problems. She isn't HIS problem. Even if she has special needs and can't be left alone, she's still not his child.

Also, since you are a stay at home mom of two teens, why can't you swim with her yourself? Even if you don't want to get in the water, you can watch her while she swims.
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#12 of 22 Old 05-02-2010, 07:00 PM
 
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Why does he have to like to swim? Plenty of people don't. I'm not sure why you care. I'd let it go. If he gets interested later, great, but he isn't going to when it's a power issue.
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#13 of 22 Old 05-02-2010, 07:22 PM
 
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not seeing why it is sooo important that he swim. Let him do something else for exercise if that is your concern. Making him swim when his sister does seems so weird to me.

I think control issues are a big problem here let it go no one needs to swim.

 
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#14 of 22 Old 05-02-2010, 07:48 PM
 
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He did used to ride bikes and play with his friends, but they would never let his sister participate in their activities, so I had to pretty much ban him from those things and from them because it was upsetting his sister too much.
I keep coming back to this. WHY is a 13 year old expected to entertain and include a 15 year old? My brother and I have the same spacing and no overlap at all with friends (we do now, but 36 to 38 is a much different kind of age gap!). Forcing us on each other would've made us HATE each other.
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#15 of 22 Old 05-02-2010, 07:49 PM
 
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eep I missed that part about banning him from doing things with his friends because his sister objected

 
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#16 of 22 Old 05-02-2010, 08:16 PM
 
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At the end of the last school year, I had a swimming party for his class, and all he did was go up into his room and stay there. I admit I did ask him if he wanted the party and he said no, but I thought having the party for him might get him more interested in the pool.
I don't blame him for just staying in his room. Why did you ask him if you weren't going to bother listening to him?

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I did eventually find him lessons and he has learned to swim, but he still won't voluntarily go into the pool and go swimming every day. Before he took lessons, he asked me if he'd have a choice of whether or not he wanted to swim from then on and I of course told him yes because I thought once he got into the pool started swimming, he'd find it fun and want to swim, but he didn't so I still have to force it on him..
You wanted him to learn how to swim and he did. I don't understand why you have to force it on him if he doesn't like to swim. And why would you tell him he would have a choice if you had no intention of letting that happen?

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His sister knows the rule is when she swims he has to swim too, and reminds him of it, but he still refuses to accept it. He also says his sister will sometimes deliberately decide to go swimming when he's doing something he likes to do, just to take him away from it.
Forcing him to go swimming every single time his sister does is sure giving your dd a LOT of power - and from what you've told us - she already has a lot of that. Making him swim everytime your dd does is certainly NOT forging any strong sibling bonds.

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I'm also concerned about him not getting enough exercise. He did used to ride bikes and play with his friends, but they would never let his sister participate in their activities, so I had to pretty much ban him from those things and from them because it was upsetting his sister too much.
Why, why, why does he have to include her in everything he does? I don't understand that at all! Just because she gets mad if she isn't? So what?! She'll get over it! Why does she get to have so much power over what happens in your family? When does your ds get to have his own life and friends?

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My husband thinks the answer to this is simple, deny him everything, no TV, no music, no talking to friends, no leaving the house, just getting the pool everyday to build himself up to a decent level. He thinks if we do this, our son will have no choice but to learn to love swimming like everyone else. I'm desparate here not sure what to do.
I can't, for the life of me, figure out why this is such a big thing for you and your dh. ..why is it so important that he love to swim? I don't like to swim and I'm sure there are lots of people who feel the same way. Taking away all of his privledges until he 'learns' how to love swimming is just plain mean IMO.
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#17 of 22 Old 05-03-2010, 12:03 AM
 
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I get ensuring he can swim & is safe around water - imo that is a life skill as most people who drown never intended to be in the water at all. But as it sounds like he already has this skill I'd leave it. I love the water but I know many people who do not & they certainly don't feel they are missing out on anything.

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#18 of 22 Old 05-03-2010, 12:23 AM
 
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Does your son like anything (a hobby, a sport, subject matter, TV shows, etc.) that you don't also like? I am assuming the answer is Yes, since you are two different people.

Well what if he forced you to partake in some of HIS favorite things (which you don't care for) *AND* on top of that, forced you to profess that you love doing so?

It'd be silly, huh? :-)

Sometimes it helps to turn the situation around like that to get it into perspective.
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#19 of 22 Old 05-03-2010, 08:33 AM
 
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As the mother of two teens (B 18, G 16), I would urge you and Dad to take a huge step back and rethink what you're doing here. Which is setting up a whole slew of poor family relationships.

For starters, by punishing him for not using the pool, you are setting him up to really dislike both you and his Dad. Not EVERYONE likes to swim. Some don't like it at all, some don't mind having a dip and that's all, and some could spend 24/7 in the water. He doesn't like to swim. So what? He is capable of it, and therefore safe around the water. Fine. But to take away everything he enjoys and forcing him to swim? You are guaranteeing that he will hate it forever. And that he will grow to hate you, too.

Older sister. Way to set up a terrible sibling dynamic! It is not your son's job to do things with his older sister. Forcing him to include her in his stuff with his friends and/or at her whim is not going to make them be close as they grow older. They should each be allowed (in the case of your son) and encouraged (in the case of your daughter) to have their own interests and friends. Sometimes they overlap. My son and daughter have a few common friends. (As well as their own friends.) Sometimes one or the other goes off with them on their own, sometimes they go together, and sometimes I encourage one to include the other as well. When they choose to do so, it's because they *want* to. I can tell you that they are incredibly tight, and will often give up an activity that they'd like to do because the other has something important going on, needs some TLC, etc. THAT is the type of relationship you want to foster between your kids. 'Cause ya know what? When you're long gone, they will be the only ones who share all the "remember when?" stuff. I'm not seeing a whole lot of positive "remember whens" between your kids.

Now, I will say that I'm not fond of either of my kids using the pool (we don't have one, but my parents do) completely alone or unsupervised. Things happen, so I'm pretty big on the buddy system. They both know that they are not to use the pool alone. That doesn't mean they both have to be IN the pool. There have been times when I've asked my son if he could just keep an eye on his sister - he'll hang on the deck with a book or his laptop while she swims. Or I expect them to have a friend come over. But honestly? It's MY job to make sure the kids are safe in the pool.

Seriously - you are guaranteeing that your son is first counting down the days until his sister leaves for college, and then the days until he does. Because then he will be done with the draconian rules you and Dad have imposed.
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#20 of 22 Old 05-03-2010, 11:36 PM
 
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So you banned him from the activities he enjoyed, humiliated him by having a party he was guaranteed to hate, and now you have made his sister the keeper of his "leisure" time to enforce this rule that everyone has to like swimming - because you have a pool? And your husband thinks the way to deal with this is remove everything your son likes?

Really?

My recommendation is, I think, to take the money you spend on pool maintenance, don't fill the pool this year, and see a family counsellor.

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#21 of 22 Old 05-04-2010, 07:07 AM
 
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Seriously - you are guaranteeing that your son is first counting down the days until his sister leaves for college, and then the days until he does. Because then he will be done with the draconian rules you and Dad have imposed.
I agree... this seems to be a surefire way of alienating a child just when they're approaching a time in their lives where you need them to be even closer (emotionally) to you, not more distant.
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#22 of 22 Old 05-04-2010, 10:56 AM
 
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I've removed several posts. If you have questions about the legitimacy of a post, please report it; don't call people out on a thread. That's against the UA. And if you can't post respectfully, please don't post at all. I am subscribed to the thread and rest assured, if there is a problem I will take care of it.

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