Is Our “Drive” Driving Our Kids Nuts?

Description

Why are we spending more time driving our kids to a bunch of activities than connecting with our family and being more mindful?

Life is moving super fast.

Everything is a blur.

Everyday it’s 5 o’clock before we know it and time to figure out dinner, do homework, bath time, and read a book before bed.

Did I mention maybe finding a moment to be still with God, or pausing long enough to give our spouse eye contact with a meaningful look that says “I love you?”

People are busy.

So busy, in fact, many parents don’t even know what day it is.  (Literally, it took my girl friends and I several minutes to figure it out over a play date.)

If this is the case, then why are we spending more time driving our kids to a bunch of activities than connecting with our family and being more mindful?

The latest battle on the parenting spectrum

Confession- I am in the minority. I don’t read the newspaper or listen to NPR unless by accident or via conversation with others. However, oddly enough, every time I tune in, they seem to be talking about how parents are over-scheduling our kids and pushing them to be amazing– whether academics or athletics. The collective thought process these days seems to centered around whether or not all of this extra curricular activity is actually good for our kids.

Is it really going to make a difference and give them the edge or is it stressing them (and us) out?

A recent interview on NPR suggested that too much structured time inhibits our kids’ ability to set and attain goals. Conversely, kids who have more unstructured time are better able to set and reach goals because kids learn to figure out how to do things on their own. Another article from NYTimes.com said that all of these activities will have little effect on our kids’ success later in life but are stressing us out now.

We live in a world where competition is not only promoted but endorsed. Are we getting caught up in the drive at the expense of our family’s sanity?

I love activities for my kids that are within reason and definitely not to my personal detriment. If I ‘m not sane then the rest of my family feels it. Not good.

But I’ve actually discovered that having my kids involved in activities is usually fun for me. I love having an outlet to connect with other moms and dads. When my daughter was 4, I never really considered whether gymnastics and ballet would be good for her future. It was all about having fun, new experiences. My son is 3 and a lot of physical activities are just now becoming available. He loves sports already, so of course soccer seems great. My friend even told me about a flag football team for next fall. Yes, please–sign us up!

However, my husband is anti-over-involvement and not a fan of kids specializing in things from the time they are 2. He keeps me grounded in the idea that they need to just have fun and be free to explore their world.

I totally get that point of view but I think it is all in how we handle the activity. If I’m pushing my kids to be the best and smash the other team or out-dance the other kids, then maybe I need to check myself. My kids are inherently competitive and I’m not sure how much I like it. So promoting more competition now seems like it might be the wrong track to get started on.

So why are we doing this? Is it for us or them?  And has anyone found activities that focus on our children’s emotional well being and happiness?

Let’s sign them up for that!

Written by: Andrea Ridder

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