I can remember waking up on a hot summer morning, throwing clothes on, shoving cereal down my throat, running out the door, jumping on my bike and heading down to a friend’s house. We would spend all morning playing outside, exploring the wooded area behind our neighborhood, going through an abandoned house (shhhhhh…don’t tell my mom) and pretending to be all kinds of things.
We built ramps to jump our bikes, we got stuck in a drainage pipe once, we scrounged up enough coins to buy sodas at a local gas station, we got into a little bit of trouble but we had a ton of fun.
I would come home for lunch, eat and leave. Then I would head home for dinner and out again until the street lights flickering on would call me home for the night. I would bathe, crash and repeat.
I had a great childhood. It was filled with G.I. Joe’s, aliens, pretend wars, bike races, baseball and lots of sweat and dirt.
And despite changing attitudes toward that kind of childhood I would advocate for it!
None of this is something that Jesus preached on, instead it comes from things I’ve seen with kids over the past couple of decades.
Moms and dads we have to chill out some. We have to let our kids fall. They need to fail and they need to get into some trouble.
I can remember meeting with one of our oldest daughters 8th grade teachers. As I sat down with them I said, “Before we start this meeting I would like to say something…” The teacher looked at me like I was going to blow up on them… “I want you to know that we are on your side. You tell us what we need to do at home to support you and we’ll do it.” The look on their face was one of complete shock and surprise.
Her teacher said that she was afraid we were going to yell at her. She said that because far too many parents had.
When parents hover over their children, waiting for the moment anything starts to go wrong and swoops in to rescue them, are not doing them any service. Helicopter parents cripple their child’s ability to do anything.
Kids that are hovered over have difficulty dealing with stress, making decisions, showing initiative and are terrified of failing. They do not play well with others and have problems making friends.
Failure is so important to a child’s development. Some of my greatest lessons in life came from me failing, from losing. I learned to be a better team mate, to have stronger work ethic, to rely on God all because I failed or lost. So many things would have been stolen from me had I not been allowed to try and fail.
Well Rounded Humans
I don’t know if it’s our need, as parents, to look good or to make people think we have it all together but what’s the deal with putting kids in everything? With scheduling all of our kids free time?
I saw the overscheduling of our kids back in the early 2000’s as a camp dean. I ran high school week of camp for years and I began noticing that kids (even high school) struggled without having someone dictate to them a schedule. So we made a decision, one year, to carve out a block of free time from 1-5pm every afternoon during camp.
The first day was rough. Those teens were so whiny…”We don’t know what to dooooo.” “Why can’t you plan fun stuff for ussssssssss?” The second day was better and by the end of the week we had students thank us for giving them permission to chill.
Let your kids get bored! Let them be kids. Let them stay up late and sleep late (now that it’s summer). Don’t schedule their everyday. I’m not arguing against piano lessons, or karate lessons or sports or any of that. What I am saying is that we have got to a point where we have to keep calendars for all of the activities that we schedule our kids for and for what?
I have known hundreds of kids over the years. And so many of them spent hours practicing different sports and missing all kinds of fun stuff. Do you know how many of them went pro in that sport?
And yes, some kids have to make it. But the chances that it’s your kids are minimal. According the NCAA, only 1/6% of D1 athletes are drafted into the NFL, for women’s basketball it’s 0.9% and the highest is baseball at 9.5%. And that’s only D1 student athletes. That doesn’t factor in smaller schools.
Let kids be kids.
I can hear a chorus of parents cheering as I mention unplugging from technology. But let’s not forget that we are as guilty as the kids are. Here’s a great article on what happened to a large cross section of students when given the challenge of unplugging for just 24 hours:
I would challenge you to do this as a family and see what happens. See how the family starts talking again, how attitudes change towards each other, see how laughter comes back and games and playing.
We have so many different things coming at us as parents and families. My advice to you is to slow down and just be. Let your kids fail, let them get bored and every now and then unplug from social media and technology. Sometimes it is better to go back to a simpler time. Maybe now is that time.
How are you handling the way our world is? What are your thoughts? We would love to hear from you! Feel free to contact our family pastor Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org.