Last week, Lynne encouraged us to think about how being busy is affecting our lives. This week, I would like to for us to consider what this kind of busyness is doing to our kids and our families.
I found a wonderful blog about the one (or two) questions we should be asking ourselves as parents, that I would like to share with you today. It has to do with the pressure we all feel for our kids to do well in life. After all, we take them to music lessons, ballet lessons, sports, and art classes, we hover over their homework and practice times to make sure they are doing their best. Because isn't that the basis for doing well in life?
When my first child was getting to be about 4-5 years old, I too felt the pressure to get her enrolled and involved in all those wonderful opportunities available to her--she went to preschool, took ballet and music classes, and went to story time at the library, Sunday school, etc. I felt guilty when I heard of all the things my mom friends were enrolling their children in that my daughter was not involved in. What was I depriving her of?
As a therapist, I read all the studies on the hurried child and how stress is a major contributor to childhood depression and anxiety. But I too succumbed to the pressure that in order for my child to do well in life (and find what she is passionate about), I had to step it up as a parent. If she missed out on XYZ, she would be marked by it forever!
I remember sitting at meeting at the school district when our school district was deciding to offer full day kindergarten. I was one of those parents outraged by the fact that 5 year olds were now under pressure to be in school all day and were now being targeted to "perform." Whatever happened to just being a kid? And playing? Whatever happened to learning to read in 1st grade? I can see how having a full day Kindergarten program works well for working parents, but I can tell you that there were many stay-at-home parents at the meeting who wondered "If I don't enroll my child in in full day kindergarten, what will they be missing out on? Obviously, the other kids would have a head start in school!" Talk about feeling the pressure!
Whatever else I would like to say on this subject is beautifully stated in this blog, so I won't repeat it:
The One Question Every Parent Should Quit Asking
One thing that I can tell you that I did about this issue is to pull back and have my kids involved in very few activities outside of school, we only do what they like and enjoy. Do I feel the pressure to do more? Absolutely! It is not what our culture tells us to do today. But the paradox is this--having more free time opened up the opportunities for my kids to able to find their own passions, their own ways of growing and learning, academically and personally.
What do you think? Do you feel the pressure as a parent too? What have you done about it?