Kids will be kids...If we let them.

I have been reading quite a few "parenting" blogs recently. You know, blogs written by parents that want to share what they feel are their unique insights or ideas, their thoughts, on this lovely adventure we call parenting.

Most of the time I find information, I find funny stories or I find things I can relate to. Sometimes, however, I find things that make me shake my head and snort in that unladylike fashion that my husband loves so much. One such post showed up today at Motherhood Uncensored. The author of this particular blog is funny and smart and I love to read her stuff, but this post points out, very eloquently, one of the things I think is wrong with parents today. They worry to much. About every little freaking thing.

I want all of you who are reading this to think back to when you were children. Are you there? Okay...now....who had parents that stuck you in every friggin activity you can imagine? Music lessons? Scouting? Dance? Sports? And how many of you secretly yearned to be at home, hanging out with your friends, doing nothing much at all? Again, show of hands, how many of you, as adults tend to be perfectionists or overacheivers? Uh-huh.....okay then...moving on.

My mother ( and I think we all know how I feel about her) never stuck me in a bunch of activities. Oh, that's not to say she didn't try. There was the failed attempt at Bluebirds and the Misery of Girl Scouts. Oh, and let's not forget The Horror of Religious Summer Camp 1982. Ah...and last, but certainly not least, my favorite, Torture by Volleyball. That was the last one. After that she figured out that she was wasting money, I wasn't going to actually participate and she wasn't getting refunds...the insanity stopped, thank god.

Here's my point folks. I was much happier when The Mother just let me run out the front door and spend my days happily roaming the neighborhood with my friends. I wanted to be out in the fresh air, in the sunshine. I wanted to stick my hands in the dirt and see what was there. I wanted to climb trees and hide and ride my bike until my legs hurt. I hated the "joiner" activites she wanted so badly to force me into.

Parents today seem to feel that if they don't sign their children up for every conceivable activity from birth that they are somehow neglecting them or harming them. They have classes for everything now...and starting at an age when the child really isn't getting anything out of it, but the parents feel better about themselves and whoever is putting on the class if making a ton of money off the guilt factor.

Children don't get to be children anymore. They don't even have Saturday morning cartoons anymore. That makes me sad. Everything has to be "educational" now. Why? Whatever happened to just letting kids be kids? Isn't there enough time to be a grown-up when you actually have to? Let your children just be children. Buy them some Playdough. Fingerpaint with them. Sing stupid songs at the top of your voices in the supermarket because it makes your child laugh. Watch dumbass cartoons and spin until your dizzy in the middle of the living room. Send your children out to play in the afternoon sun. Let them BE.

Is there a place for piano lessons and scouting? Sure...but quit obsessing about it. It should be something your child comes home from school and asks you to do, not something you tell them they have to do. My daughter takes art lessons...because she wants to. She doesn't take dance lessons, because she hated them...we tried it though.

Letting your children be children isn't going to land them on Dr. Phil when they're twenty telling the whole world that if you had only put them in voice lessons they would have gotten into Harvard and wouldn't be working at McDonald's now. Ease up. Let it go. You can not control everything, but you can make sure your children get to actually be children. Let them hang on to that joy for as long as they can, huh?


Anonymous said...

I've got the opposite problem - a daughter who wants to be IN EVERYTHING and I'm having to say no, no, no, maybe, no...

She's already in a couple of weekly activities (gymnastics & Brownies), and I feel like that's enough. I want her to have "hang out" time, and she's begging for more activities! It's a hard line to locate, that's for sure.

Suzanne said...

There's a great book about this by Judith Warner, but I completely forgot the name of it. Something with Motherhood in it. I think you'll like it.