Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Eclectic Telegraph: May Edition

The Overscheduled Child
by Amy Cortez, Editor - The Eclectic Telegraph

A friend recently commented to me about another parent "they drive them to a bunch of activities and schedule so many things for them to do that when they don't have anything planned for them, they don't know what to do."

I asked "so do you think that makes them a good parent?"

They replied, "this parent thinks they are super parent, when really I have observed is all that they have with those kids is a superficial relationship because they don't really spend any time together, rather they let all these non-family members coach, instruct and mentor their kids."

Now one could take that conversation as gossip, but it made me realize the very special relationship homeschooling parents end up having with their kids because of the time we spend coaching, instructing and mentoring our kids. Personally, I think many activities outside the home are used more for babysitting than anything else. Organized soccer for 5 year olds? Are you kidding me? Show me a kid that is “too busy” and I will show you parents that just want to have someone else be responsible for their kids for a while.

I wanted to research this observation my friend made nd found that this is a real problem in today's world, it's called hyper-parenting, we just missed it at our house. "Hyper-parenting" occurs when parents over-manage and over-schedule their child’s life. There's also the term "helicopter parents". Helicopter parents hover. and they are always on the lookout for threats to their children's success and happiness. It seems that parenting has become a competitive sport.

I imagine most homeschooling families won't experience this phenomenon, but maybe not. I imagine that many parents of gifted kids might see this happening in their family because often with a gifted child we feel we must give our children all the opportunities we can. It has been my experience so far that if you let kids be kids, they turn out to be pretty healthy, well adjusted and personable people complete with their own opinions, set of values and responsibilities. Some ideas I have implemented at our house:

Family is a Priority.
Relationships matter, more than anything else. Our children are with us for a short time before they head out into their own lives. We ought to enjoy them, we ought to spend quality time with them.

Character Counts.
How you live your life in front of your child matters more than how you tell him he ought to be living his. Character lasts a lifetime. Live the values that are important to you, because your children will emulate you when they grow up and go out into the world.

Childhood is a Preparation.
No one ought to be on stage all the time. Kids should not be judged on every aspect of their life. Children are children should not be expected to perform to adult standards. Resist the pressure from external forces that tell you how to push your child to excel early.

Fun Has A Place in Parents' Lives.
Our brief time on earth is meant to be enjoyed. Our closest relationships should be a source of pleasure, not constant pressure and tension.

Fun Has A Place In Kids' Lives.
Childhood shouldn't be an endless flow of productivity and self-improvement activities. Kids deserve to have fun, down time, and empty spaces in their lives to fill any way they choose to. A lot of supposedly "fun" scheduled activities are anything but fun; they are pressured times when a child is expected to perform, especially the perfectionistic gifted child.

Trust Yourself.
Don't believe the experts who tell you they know how you ought to raise your child. When it comes to your family, you are the expert.

Description from Amazon: In this digital age there is still a place for knots, skimming stones and stories of incredible courage. This book recaptures Sunday afternoons, stimulates curiosity, and makes for great father-son activities. The brothers Conn and Hal have put together a wonderful collection of all things that make being young or young at heart fun—building go-carts and electromagnets, identifying insects and spiders, and flying the world's best paper airplanes.

The May Edition of The Eclectic Telegraph is Out. Here's what we wrote about:

GO TO The Eclectic Telegraph.