You are most likely a parent if you are reading this and therefore, I don’t have to remind you that parenting is hard. Motherhood is overwhelming. Fatherhood is challenging. Keeping up with your kids emotions and wellbeing is a full time job on it’s own. But add the social pressures and round-the-clock activities, fundraisers, parties and more to the mix – it’s enough to make you scream.
Not every parent feels like screaming though. Some parents thrive in those situations. They love the fast paced lifestyle. The 4-5 day after school activities schedule. The late night parties on Thursday nights. But that doesn’t always mean the kids do too.
We often get sucked into this copy and paste culture. Where families are like dominos. Falling one after another in competition but also in fear of missing out. Meanwhile the kids are struggling and have no say.
Which is what brings me to this topic today: Please, stop being the ‘copy/ paste’ parents!
Don’t worry about how many festivities your friends attend – worry about the traditions you make with your family.
Don’t worry about the clubs your neighbors participate in – focus on creating memories with your crew.
Don’t waste your time keeping up with what the kids from school are doing – ask your kids what they want and like to do.
Stop pressuring your kids to fit in by signing them up for every after school activity – spend some time with them alone.
Skip a party or two – have a game night or go for a walk alone. Just your family. Talk to each other.
Please don’t get me wrong, I am also not an expert. These are just observations from a mom who has two kids and I see it first hand.
It’s wonderful to have friends. It’s beautiful to be part of groups. It’s even better when kids thrive and flourish in activities. They need social interactions and positive experiences. But when you throw so much at them, all of the time, just because ‘everyone is doing it‘ – kids can miss out on the chance to figure out who they are on their own. They don’t know how to handle boredom and are in constant need for stimulation. Which can affect their well being.
This persistent pressure for socializing is demanding and stressful for kids and families. They aren’t creating any real friendships or connections. We aren’t spending time with each other in positive ways. Kids are constantly tired, faking being happy, complaining to their friends, falling asleep in class and generally overwhelmed. All while spending less and less time with their families and true friends.
As parents, we obviously want to motivate them and inspire them but we can’t mold them into unrealistic versions of children we want them to be. They have personalities and likes/ dislikes on their own and deserve to be heard.
If we never allow our kids to say no to festivities, to make a choice on activities and friendships, to skip that play date because it’s not fun or comfortable, what are we really teaching them here? Something that can eventually can lead to resentment or much worse. It becomes easy and almost second nature to accept feeling uncomfortable in situations and stay there, because “mom/ dad said I have to”.
While social and athletic experiences have their own benefits and each kid and family is different, please look for a balance. One that gives your family and your children enough time to rest and be productive in other areas too. But also form meaningful friendships and connections.
Also, you may find my old post about Creating Meaningful Bonds with your kids interesting as well.
Until next time, slow down and listen to your kids.
Another wonderful article to check out: Pandemic ‘silver lining’: How slashing over-scheduling may be saving kids’ life skills.