Whitney knew how to preach it. Too bad she's subjecting her children to drug abuse and domestic violence. This article addresses the concern that children are too busy.
Kids need to be kids. Childhood is sacred because it's the time in a growing individual's life for learning and playing, without the onset of anxiety, excessive competition, or adult stress & responsibility. Being a child should afford the luxury of discovering the world and the interrelation of all things. I believe that some structured activities, like scouting, sports, volunteering, and language and music lessons are incredibly helpful for developing young minds. The earlier these skills are introduced, the more they will assist in developing all forms of intelligence. When these activities are piled on, however, for the purpose of getting ahead of others, or getting into college, the reasons why these skills were so important in the first place become lost.
When children lose their unstructured play time, they lose an essential opportunity to learn curiousity, or entertain themselves, or problem-solve. An attorney, walking to court with me earlier this week, was telling me that recently his children and some neighborhood children were playing street hockey. Disputing a goal, one child asked this attorney to make the call, knowing that he officiates and coaches youth hockey. He refused, and instead insisted that the kids discuss why they believed the goal was fair, or why it wasn't a goal, and let them develop their own solution - a penalty shot.
Blonde Justice wrote a great entry about a family in her neighborhood. I aspire to be a mother like that. I really want to afford children the opportunity to be children - to learn how to care for one another; to get dirty and poke at bugs or plants; to learn to take care of animals; to eat dirt and get peas stuck in their noses; to learn how to share, or settle disagreements; to giggle about their crushes and pass notes in class; to learn on their own time what makes them happy, what interests them, who they are, and what they want to be. That's not to say that I'd be totally ok if my teenage son decided that his calling was to play Nintendo for 14 hours a day.
Parents are forcing children to continue to play sports, resulting in a painful,
long-term health concerns for the child (like tendonitis, bursitis, etc)? I was investigating less than that as a child protection worker.
I like the idea that some communities are scheduling nights that are completely void of scheduled activities, particularly since families with more than one child in even just one activity will never have a schedule that permits a free night. However, it disturbs me to think that some parents must rely on the school to force them to give their children some down time.I think that overscheduling children for the purpose of making them better assets instills, far too early, the idea that 'status' is paramount to success and happiness. I see who these kids grow up to be - many people in my law school class seem to have developed in this manner - and now they're working in corporate legal jobs that don't interest them, but they're doing it because they're accustomed to the lifestyle. I respect that they have made their decision - but there are a handful that are so incredibly unhappy in law school and with their future career, that I can't understand why this lifestyle is a good choice.
Part of the reason I enjoy working with kids is because when I interact with them, I never fail to learn something. I learn something about them, or they force me to learn something about myself, or we teach each other something about how we view the world. Their youthful inquisitiveness is innocent, inadvertent, and profound.
It makes me uncomfortable to think of children shouldering the concerns of adults, lacking the mischievious innocence of youth. It would be like "Children of the Corn." Unfortunately, I've seen children taking care of their parents and siblings; I've seen children behind bars; I've seen children who live in multi-million dollar homes and go to expensive schools and have the best of everything but are never allowed to get dirty. They're shoving something up their nose, but it ain't berries.