A few days ago I was at the park and and began to overhear a conversation between a group of moms. They were all discussing how their children were in these activities and those activities and they just didn’t have time to be moms. Even at the park these moms all “Planned a play date there” and were going to have to leave for another activity in a few minutes. I couldn’t help but notice that their kids were all kind of just playing with other kids but not really playing. One was off to the side playing with an iPad,another was sitting off in a corner playing by himself and a few were actually playing with my kids who weren’t even part of the group. It all hit me because I realized how much over planning these moms had done to make their kids happy and the end results weren’t what they desired. It also made me realize how complicated we’ve made parenting and is it really beneficial to our children?
Last night I read this fantastic article from the Washington Post on the Loss of Unsupervised time and a Lesson from the Movie Goonies. It struck a chord in me because I realized how happy my youth was and how important the natural desire for kids to be kids was, to explore, to experience, to be adventurous. I remember going to Mexico during the summer when I was little and I still remember saying bye to my parents in the morning and running off with my cousins for hours, we would jump in the river, chase adventure, and maybe hope we’d run into the local town “ghost”. This was my youth! I had a freedom that let me run,jump, explore and live. My parents would warn me of the dangers and I knew not to talk to strangers or do completely stupid things.
Those were the happiest memories of my youth. They were the ones that made me who I am today. To a certain extent I’ve let my kids have that mentality and I think that’s why I’ve held on so much to the notion of homeschooling. Not so much because of my fear of what they’ll learn in schools, but because of my fear of what they won’t. The fact that we’ve made schools a training ground for testing kids on what they are supposed to know and not a place where they go to truly learn. When did schools go from a thirst for knowledge to an assembly line of testing subjects, our kids being treated as human guinea pigs for the next big test.
I know as a parent I can’t give my kids the freedom I enjoyed because there’s always someone ready to call CPS right around the corner. I know I can’t let my kids enjoy free time the way I did because there will be someone judging my “poor parenting” If I allow my kids too much freedom to ,gasp, be kids. However, this brings me to my main thought in all of this.How happy are our kids now?Think about it! We have the highest number of kids on anti depressants, medication,and counseling! When I was in school there weren’t kids having to receive a dose of medication for anything.I’m sure there should have been, but would the numbers have been as high as they are now? Yes now!, One in thirteen kids is on medication in the US. How is that possible? Are our kids magically being born screwed up? With more complex issues than an adult can ever dream of? I don’t get the upward trend. As a lowly College educated gal like myself the only reason I can see fit is the move from adventure to this complex and screwed up version of parenting we are being fed.
We have to be perfect, we have to pinterest the hell out of everything and most important we have to make our kids a part of everything. If they aren’t they’re going to suffer. We need to gentle parent.We need to pay a million dollars for organic food, that should be pesticide free to begin with. Most important we are being fed this notion that kids need technology to be happy. I’m guilty of it! I’m the first one giving Lo a Cellphone so hubby and I can have 4 minutes of quite talk before Princess Gigi and Lo start fighting at the restaurant. Because children are expected to be little adults and not children. However, what I want to know is when did parenting become such a major productive disaster?
As a collective whole ,We are so unhappy as parents. I don’t ever remember my mom or any other mom being so stressed out about motherhood the way we are. Our moms loved us ,but understood we were kids. We love our kids but don’t want them to be kids, we want them to be kids with adult like mentalities. In the end loving on them too much and controlling every aspect of their being. To me that’s the problem. To the point where we are incapacitating them to live happy and normal lives. We are making it a point to have them so over stimulated and so overwhelmed, we’re not letting them be kids, to get in trouble, to explore, to learn and to enjoy their youth. Isn’t it amazing that when we were kids we would always say ” I can’t wait until I’m an adult so I can do whatever I want” Only to grow up and realize that our generation was the last one to truly enjoy their child hood.
Will our kids never know the freedom of playing in a neighborhood full of kids who don’t care about Xbox? Will our kids never know what it’s like to play from sun up to sun down?True outdoor free play! Will our kids never know what real childhood fun is like?Maybe this is a plea for parents to take up in arms and begin simplifying parenting. Throw out the schedule. Let your kids be free this summer! Let them enjoy life. They are only young once! I’m not asking you to completely let them go, but go back to where it all began for us. Stop the mad path we are on! This experiment isn’t working and we all have to come together and say enough is enough. Regain parenting and let our children regain their childhood. Do it for them before, true childhood dies and all we are left with is a distant memory of what once was.
Comments & Reviews
Alicia C says
Thank you! I thought I was the Last Mom Standing up for raising my kids the way I was. Growing up without a lot of money, my parents didn’t have the luxury of sending us to endless summer camps, after school private lessons, theme parks, or anything else kids do. My son’s current favorite activity is going to the playground, and although he’s too young to be left alone, one day he will walk there himself or with friends – no helicopter parents around.
Amber Ludwig says
Omgosh is this so true!! But what a more terrifying world we live in!! It is hard to find a happy balance between being a helicopter parent and being too lenient!! I am all for a schedule free lifestyle!! Let them just play and enjoy life!! Lord knows it goes too fast!
Lisa W says
My kid is 2 and she always plays outside by herself exploring and enjoying nature. It’s sad kids who aren’t everyday. Definitely something needed everyone should spend an hour in nature a day and if you dont want to or dont have the time you should spend two. For our mental health. ! Great read!!
Lisa Coomer Queen says
This is such a great post. My daughter homeschools also and trys to let them use their imagination during play time.
It is amazing how structured and planned play now is. I think our kids will miss out on just having that free time to come up with creative ideas.