In today’s competitive world, every parent want their children to stand out in the crowd. All we want is the best for our kids. Sometimes we want for them everything we never had as kids. We want them to get everything they can, out of life, right? There is nothing wrong in wanting the finest to release the best promising potential. But if we are not careful, we can create excessive pressure over them.
Sometimes I think about the present scenarios and wonder what’s the end game?
That’s what I want to know. I ask this question to myself, silently, every time I hear of a second grader going for extra tutoring, extra classes, endless sessions a week; every time one of my daughter’s friends is unavailable for play with her because she has after-school classes for dance on Monday, after-school drama and recital classes on Tuesday, after-school swimming on Wednesday, after-school abacus on Thursday and after-school Trinity grammar classes on Friday. Without skipping the weekends, as well, there are other classes.
I turn down to stop other parents and ask the question aloud. But it blazes me from inside. I would really like to know.
What’s the end game? Or what the heck are you trying to attain here?
Back when we were kids, we returned home from a day or any day at school and did three things which were always in this order. First, we had our food, mostly it was lunch. Then, we did our homework. And the third, we played like donkeys (literally). We would meet our neighborhood friends and play until it was dinner time. Really, we did.
Whatever parental logics are applied today, against all those, remarkably, we’ve all wound up doing just fine. Married, kids, homes, careers, contentment.
Today my friends are designers, marketing experts, lawyer and one of them is also the CEO of a company.
Nowadays, we live in a community where nothing for kids is allowed to come naturally. There is predominated pressure that reigns, the air is tainted by a rising demand to make certain—cost and logic and foolishness—that your child has been placed on the hundred percent list of guaranteed path to success. It’s not enough to have the kid learning at his grade level these days. He has to be one or two notches ahead. It’s no longer OK for the kid to have little to do after school, free time to use as he sees fit. So, now you’re either signing your child up for infinite organized activities, or you’ve somehow allowed him to fall behind. Everything spins around success, success, success, success.
Now, can anyone specify what in the world is success?
Please, I would love someone to tell me. Is it being a class lecturer or an orator? Is it getting into Harvard? Is it earning an MBA or a Ph.D.? Working for NASA? Having your own reality TV show? What exactly is the definition of success?
Every parent is in such a rush to assure a child’s future, yet nobody has been able to appropriately define the ultimate reward. Parents are heard saying, “We just want to give our child the best opportunity to succeed” endlessly without explanation. And many of the parents are, quite frankly, unhappy even after that. It’s like we are all lined up on a racetrack, and we know we need to dash as fast as possible — only there’s no distinct finish line. Just run hard, spend all your energy, and maybe you’ll find it.
Children today do have many wonderful opportunities, but they need time to explore things in depth. Many children don’t have time to relax and sigh. Parents put them in so many activities that they are exhausted and drained. Children miss out their childhood experiences if they are over-scheduled. They should be allowed to pursue their interests. Let them have enough time to play and explore their personalities. There is very little time for them to be just kids, if their lives are adult-dominated. Children need time with parents — time to relax, have fun, talk, read, play games, draw, explore and just hang out. Families that are constantly running from one extracurricular activity to the next have little space for these experiences. Simply limiting the amount of time spent in extracurricular activities and not just wasting time running around for classes maybe the key for more time spent together and being stress-free.
Our kids are gifted with only a few years of childhood. That’s it — less than two decades before the harsh, dark, real world beat their happiness. Yes, of course, I want mine to do well in school, and learn the ethics and virtues of humanity, kindness and hard work. But I also want them to jump, play, rejoice every moment. I aspire for them to climb up the trees, to run and ride until exhausted, to let loose a loud whistle and cheer for their gangs, and much more. Giving them a happy childhood, without defining the limits. If they are happy, I’ll be thrilled.