The Easter season is upon us, and amid the fashionable pastels comes another hallmark of spring—practices, games, and rehearsals. Baseball, track, and soccer seasons overlap with spring musicals and concerts. Add in a first communion, confirmation, and graduation, and you’re likely to have at least one day where your daughter is changing out of her frilly dress in the church bathroom and scrambling into her cleats and uniform.
Some parents embrace the many opportunities their children have, feeling there is little downside. Other parents approach their kids’ activity level more cautiously, wary of injuries and burnout that can happen when kids do too much too soon. Most parents are looking for that sweet spot of balance—finding the activities that engage their children without sacrificing the pleasure of having unstructured time as a family.
How young is too young? Some experienced parents admit they got out of the blocks too fast with their first child. Maureen, mother of five ranging from toddler to teen, says, “Early in my parenting career, I felt pressure to get my young children involved in everything. I felt as if my kids would be socially awkward if I deprived them of activities. Several kids later, by the grace of God, I have wised up and learned that overdoing activities wreaks havoc on good families and makes everyone feel crazy. Most importantly, ‘If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.’ Our current family rule is one activity at a time.”
Reginald, father of five children under 10, believes that young children first and foremost need time with parents. “My wife and I only have so much time to try and parent everyone while they are in the young ages,” he says. “Running them around takes us away from face-to-face time. I heard a speaker say that every kid needs a small town. And I think that as parents and a family, we are their first and hopefully strongest small town. I hope to develop other small towns for them—through more activities—when they are older.” …continued next week
—by Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the 2013 Best in Class award from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for the past three years running. Here’s a sample issue.
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