February 22, 2007

Let The Games Begin

Okay. I'm going to get slammed into the goalposts for this one, but here goes nothing.

A recent survey from the government-sanctioned Canadian Social Trends cites an alarming tumble in the time that parents spend with their children. A fellow columnist from the Spec looks at it here.

You know what? The most glaring problem I hear whenever I listen to parents bitch about not having enough time with their kids is that they're stuck driving them to a bazillion different sports and activities. The concept of two parents working has been around for way too long to be dumping this time shortage all on the backs of - let's be honest - working mothers.

Too many parents are slaves to their children's social and sporting lives. Am I a horrible parent because I refuse to live in my car year-round, driving across the province and living in arenas or gyms? No. My kids participate in lots of school sports, and when they've expressed an interest in soccer or hockey, they get signed up. The soccer thing made me crazy, because it got down to having to ask the coach if we could go to the cottage.

Uhm, no.

Tell your kids to pick a sport. One. They'll get over it. We're really not turning out more well-rounded kids. We're just turning out kids who only know how to function when some adult has them scheduled within an inch of their lives. Your energy would be better spent petitioning the government to make sure sports and music and art programs stay a part of our school cirriculums so that ALL children can participate.

If your work is gobbling up vast expanses of your personal time on an ongoing basis, it's time to address the imbalance. But if your kid's activities mean you're spending your life in the car, I have another suggestion. Stop signing up for things. Show your kids that being bored at home with you is more important than making rep. And it is.

I'm not anti-sport or anti-piano. I just see a real cheap shot when families cry out about a lack of time, and yet it's because they've let something that should be an extra become a mainstay. There are too many families who work opposite shifts and long shifts to make ends meet. They're starved for family time because they are doing what we all think they should do - support themselves. I'll save my tears for them.

I truly believe we get the families we deserve. You decide what is best, and then you do it. Period. If that means ditching a long commute, figure out a way to do it. If it means watching movies you don't like, or listening to music you can't understand, do it. As your children navigate through this crazy world, they need help. Your help.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm with you all the way on this one. My kids get to choose one sport a season - and nothing can overlap.

In our community we have a soccer league that starts in May and ends when school does so there's no interference with summer plans. How cool is that? My son wanted to play rep soccer which ran all summer and once he realized that meant missing out on cottage trips he decided he didn't want to play.

There is a lot of pressure from other parents, and the media (don't get me started on parenting magazines!) to have your kids in all kinds of activities. As a single mom it's tough enough to go it alone without being made to feel that you're a terrible parent for not spending every weekend with your kids in an arena.

February 22, 2007 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed, and I'll venture to say that most comments will agree - because the ones who wouldn't have no balance in their lives (and are too crazybusy to be reading blogs).

I don't really know why parents do it. I guess some think they want to give their kids the opportunities they never had. But that's looking at it from a parent's perspective. Kids don't see hockey, piano, skiing, etc as "opportunities", they're just something to do.

February 22, 2007 11:17 AM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Heh. I like the 'opportunities' my Dad gave us. He'd hand us the hose while we climbed the tree out front. Or we'd help him weed ('that's not a weed!') and plant the garden. Funny how we got to spend so much time with a Dad who was really busy...we really do invent a lot of our own problems today.

February 22, 2007 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't agree with you more. I wonder how many other couples out there spend so much time running the kids from one sport to another, one activity to another and one job to another that they don't even realize they are losing each other? You have to spend time together in more ways than just mommy or daddy taxi. As a family and as a couple away from the kids. Or you may just end up with another time consumer, custody issues!!

February 23, 2007 9:25 AM  

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