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What to do when you’re unwelcome at a child’s school concert

  • Chicago Tribune
  • Published Wednesday, April 10, 2013, at 1:21 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, April 10, 2013, at 1:24 p.m.

Your son doesn’t want you at his high school band concerts. Should you attend anyway?

Such a request is incredibly common, says family counselor Carl Pickhardt, author of “Surviving Your Child’s Adolescence: How to Understand, and Even Enjoy, the Rocky Road to Independence” (Jossey-Bass). Particularly among freshmen and sophomore students.

“He has just entered a whole new social world, and he’s at the bottom of a big age heap, and he wants to get established and act independently and catch hold socially,” says Pickhardt. “To do that, you do not want a lot of public interaction with your parents.”

And while there’s a chance your behavior is a particular embarrassment, his discomfort likely has nothing to do with you.

“Parents need to remember not to take this personally,” Pickhardt says. “This is not a rejection. This is a kid protecting his very fragile sense of independence against what he feels would be an embarrassing social situation were he to be seen with his parents.”

Now, what to do with that.

Tell your child how happy it makes you to see him perform, Pickhardt suggests. Tell him, “We don’t want to create discomfort for you. Let’s talk about where we might sit out of the way, how we’ll limit our contact, where we might pick you up to take you home.”

“Part of the kid wants his parents there,” he says. “If he can have his parents there in a way that doesn’t cause social discomfort, and he can be independent with the older band members, everyone’s happy.”

Don’t bother pointing out how many other parents are usually in attendance, Pickhardt says.

“Rather than make a comparison to other parents and other kids, all you have to say is, ‘This is a public performance, and we’d love to be part of the public,’ ” he suggests.

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