KidZone in Truckee’s jMama Mia! Stop the madness and get off the achievement merry-go-round
TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; jMama Mia! I have two middle school children who are also active in sports, band and countless other clubs and extracurricular activities. Sometimes each child is doing more than one sport a season, which then makes all the other stuff very hard. Is it possible my children are feeling the same stress we are as the parents of two children we hardly ever see?
Stress does not discriminate
It attacks us all, but only those old enough to identify it can prevent it. Enter the frantic, stressed out parents. The moment you discover your children have become strangers, it is time to stop everything and re-connect, reevaluate, re-prioritize. They feel the same way, but as adolescents they probably donand#8217;t mind their parents arenand#8217;t playing an active role in their immediate lives. By and#8220;givingand#8221; them more, they are getting less.
Busy children donand#8217;t see mom and dad that much, certainly not long enough to have a meaningful conversation. Itand#8217;s a crime when all you do is shuffle your progeny from A to B because they canand#8217;t drive yet and still need your taxi services, thank goodness.
However, now that every one on the planet from 1 to 100 has a cell phone and knows how to use it, the car time is probably lost to texting or social networking online. Also, you are extremely busy working several jobs to pay for all of his and hers and#8220;extras,and#8221; so you end up carpooling, which creates more distance between you.
The guilt associated with not doing enough for our children has pushed us to do way too much. We want whatand#8217;s best for them, but does that mean a lack of healthy food choices because we have no time to cook; or less quality sleep because their marathon days never seem to end. Do they really need all those structured activities? What happened to free time, down time, time to be quiet? No, I donand#8217;t mean the homework hour. That too has gotten out of control. Please donand#8217;t tell me your teens do homework in the car while having dinner en route to a soccer tournament!
Learn to say no! Limit sports to one per season. Talk to the teacher if homework seems insurmountable. Skip the carpool and shut off the phone. The documentary film entitled and#8220;Race to Nowhereand#8221; can be found at http://www.racetonowhere.com and is worth a viewing to support the fact that your family, this culture and our society have become maxed out. and#8220;The Case Against Homeworkand#8221; by Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish is a provocative read that also addresses some of these same ideals.
Edutopia.org is a terrific website to help you re-prioritize the life skills and learning you want for your children. Psychalive.org is a more nuts and bolts, science/research-based website that can scare you and help you find answers to everything about your children from sex to drugs and in between. Lastly, Allianceforchildhood.org offers many articles and further reading illustrating the importance of play for children of all ages.
Before you sit down to work through this solo, talk to your young ones. Go it together. Find out how they feel. What are their needs? Who are they? Are they becoming who you want them to be, or who they believe themselves to be as autonomous agents in this crazy world of ours? Over the last few generations we have built an achievement culture that has grown out of control. Itand#8217;s time now to stop the madness and#8212; for you and for them.
and#8212; If you have a parenting puzzler for Mama Mia at the KidZone Museum in Truckee e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 587-KIDS.
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