How Our Busy Performance Based Culture is Effecting Parenting

Our culture has changed in the way that we view children and how we raise them and some of these changes are for the better but some are not producing the results that we want. I want my child to grow to be a person who can handle the challenges, who is considerate of others, who can maintain relationships because he/she understands how to not only take but also give. These skills need to be learned and that is our job as parents. 

What I see are kids who are very busy with activities that revolve around them and are often performance based like a sport. We all go to watch, cheer and talk about the child’s performance. I understand there is a lot of good in sports activities, things like exercise, discipline, team work and learning to listen to direction. Playing a sport can also teach how to behave when your team looses, or you miss a shot or have to sit on the bench. So I am not saying that sports are bad, what I am saying is that if that type of performance based activity is all that the child does and the family revolves around the child then they can get the wrong idea of how life works. The child will expect the attention to revolve around them and they will also feel the stress of continual performance.  

There should also be times when the child has to make a sacrifice for others. Have them go and watch someone else’s activity and cheer with a good attitude. Have them serve the family by washing the car or mowing the lawn. They have to learn to contribute to the family. Without this training they begin to feel entitled to have the attention all the time.

In the past children would also do things that were less performance based and simply for fun, art projects, build a model airplane, learning to sew these types of behaviors teach a different skill set that includes patience, perseverance and learning to pay attention to details. They can also be done with your child and this allows for time to talk and build the relationship. We are missing this element because we tend to send our children off to a coach or teacher to work with them instead of spending time ourselves.

I understand that we are all very busy but some of that busyness is self imposed because we feel this busy lifestyle is what is expected. But we can push back against some of these cultural expectations and do something different. Remember the goal is not to keep up with everyone else, the goal is to build a relationship with your child and teach them skills that will help them succeed as an adult. Few of your children are going to be pro-athletes but all of them will need to have a job, deal with challenges and maintain relationships. Let’s prepare them.

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Written by Lisa Strong

 

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