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In the 21st century, American lives have gotten incredibly busy. And it isn’t just adults hurrying through various jobs, schooling, moving to make a living somehow—but it is also, indeed, children busy with their different activities. Often, these activities are initiated by parents.

And why? As a mother, I am anxious for my children to have the best experiences possible—and apparently, the most. When I was a child, I missed out on everything—school, activities, dances, musicals. My parents insisted on keeping their children secluded, and I still sometimes mourn those lost opportunities. As a result, I find what I can to get my children involved in—school, theatre, dance, music, sports, etc. Things have calmed down somewhat as I’m unable to bring them to many things due to working and being in school full time, but given the chance, I would do it again.

Is that actually a good thing?

The Bigger Question

In an article titled, The One Question Every Parent Should Quit Asking, the author points out, “‘Free time’ for kids has been steadily declining since the 1950s. In one particular study, from 1981 to 1997, kids experienced a 25 percent decrease in play-time and a 55 percent decrease in time talking with others at home. In contrast, time spent on homework increased by 145 percent, and time spent shopping with parents increased by 168 percent.”

What is this doing to us? Our kids, our family structure? I have noticed the hours of homework my children now are expected to put in—schools everywhere seem to be raising the bar on this as parents become more concerned about college applications and the issues with getting into the school they want. As parents, we buy into the idea that our children must have experienced everything—not only because their childhood is flashing by—but because colleges will be scouring the child’s experiences to compare to all the others… or so we believe. We want our children to be successful—but this translates into who gets to decide the level of success? The above mentioned article notes that while kids used to be influenced in their accomplishments by a sense of pride and love for community and family, they are now inspired by money and “fame”—whatever current fame seems to be.

So slow down. Take a second and know that not everything must be tried, not all projects must be done. Enjoy the fact that we are alive and together—that, in and of itself, is a wonderful accomplishment.

At The Crossroads is a Transitional Living Program to help young adults navigate the ever-changing 21st century world. Call us at (866) 439-0354 to see how we can help!

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