Wednesday, August 9, 2017

"Just Be A Kid"

I've been thinking about my kids a lot, not that I don't always, but more about them each as individuals.  They are similar but different in many ways.  One thing I've really been mulling over is the pressure society, parents, friends, school, church, family put on them to be "the best" or to "fit in".   If you're a parent, or even if you're not, you probably can relate to this post on some level.  I was talking with my middle schooler the other day about her extra curricular life, and I had to break the news that soon she would have to choose one thing to focus on and participate in.  Some of this is due to finances and some due to time but most is due to expectations.  I had to tell her that even though many of her teachers and coaches would lead her to believe she can participate in a multitude of things, the reality is she can't.  The pressure to be the best, in most cases, outweighs the need to be well rounded or enjoy many different things once you get to be a certain age.  And it seems like that age is getting younger and younger.  It makes me sad that because a few of my kids chose to "just be a kid" when they were younger and elected not to be involved in some sort of organized activity, they are now not able to participate in anything; because they aren't "good enough".  I am not sure how this is positive for most, but for my children it is not.  They aren't allowed to join sports, choirs, bands, classes, etc.;  because they don't have the experience or knowledge that they needed to learn when they were little bitty.  Instead they were busy building mud pies, playing make believe, going on adventures and reading books.  I chose to allow them to do those things and not force them into anything, and now they aren't welcomed into much of anything.  How are they suppose to learn if the door is shut so early?  I know it's about balance, but it seems to me that the scale tips very heavily in one direction.  Although my girls can read music, play an instrument, write amazing stories, paint, sing, and many other things;  their lack of "experience" oftentimes keeps them out.  Believe me they have experience, it just might not be with an organized team or group.  And even if they do have experience with an organized team or group, which a few do, it never seems good enough.  More hours, more money, more time away from family and no time for anything else.  I do greatly appreciate the leaders, who are upfront and tell you from the start, what the time and financial commitment will be.  But it still makes me sad that there are oftentimes no options for children to participate, if you don't have the money or don't want them to spend 90% of their time away from home.  I don't know the answer, but I wish I did.  I do know that I don't regret letting my kids "just be kids", and I hope they don't either.

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