Adventures Of Fatherhood – January 11, 2019

Adventures Of Fatherhood – January 11, 2019

Being busy is an excuse many use when we either screw up or can’t do something in a timely fashion.

Of all the various responsibilities in my life, I consider being a parent a top priority. That’s why I make sure to not put work or other obligations ahead of the kids. That doesn’t mean I’m not distracted from time to time when I’m with my kids running from this or that to that or this. Like most families, we do a lot of running around with our children.

That’s why the roughly two-week break off from school, sports and appointments for the holidays was especially cherished. In fact, it spoiled me a bit as the grind came back in a big way this week. I enjoy almost all of it, but there are many times when I question whether scrambling from soccer games and practices, birthday parties, homework and speech and occupational therapy sessions is how our lives with our kids should be.

Since I’m a geek, I read dozens of parenting articles a week. One I read this week on this topic on was headlined, “Our Children’s Busyness Is Not A Badge Of Honour (And Why We Need To Change It.” I thought I would share a portion of it that hit home to me.

“I was fortunate enough to see Dr. Shefali Tsabury speak at an event in Vancouver recently. After her talk the audience was free to ask questions. A father asked, How do we know how much to push our kids in sports and activities when they want to give up?”

I will never forget Dr. Shefali’s answer. She said, Mozart was always going to be Mozart. No matter what his parents did, he would have found anything that was black and white and played it.’ Her message was clear; we don’t need to push our kids.

We need to give them the space and freedom that a simple childhood provides and then support them by making opportunities available when they show an interest. We need to release the pressure, guilt and obligation we put on ourselves to give our children more than they need; organized activities can be wonderful … but it’s healthiest as an a-la-carte experience not an all-you-can-eat buffet.

…  perhaps of all the elements of simplifying childhood that I’ve written about, simplifying schedules seems to be the one that causes the most controversy. Yet, it’s a relatively easy thing to do; there are no secrets or special tips you need to do it. It’s as simple as paring back, being mindful, choosing our YES’s and NO’s wisely. I think what stops us from simplifying is fear.

It takes a leap of faith and a brave parent to trust that simplifying our children’s lives and giving them down time to play, connect with their families and create simple joy is what our kids really need. It is more than ok to prioritize family time, … To truly BE with them, not just DOING things for them.

Our kids don’t need to be enrolled, entertained, scheduled, supervised, coached, or assessed in an adult directed activity to be happy. They are perfectly capable of leading the way and directing their own lives. While busyness may have been glorified in our modern day society; it is not a badge of honour and we need to prevent it from compromising our kids’ childhoods.

Let’s give them the freedom to be unbusy. … Let’s create white space in our children’s lives and give them the freedom to paint it with the vibrant colors they choose. I have no doubt they’ll create works of art beyond our wildest imaginations.”

This concept is something I have given a lot of thought to lately with both our kids, especially when we had an empty activities calendar over the holidays.

Carson, as a special needs child, has a certain amount of therapies that are not negotiable, but we are evaluating everything he does currently to ensure it’s productive for him. He deals with more on a daily basis than most even without added out-of-school therapies.

Beckett enjoys all sports. I have recently seen something change in him slowly but surely as he seems to be questioning his commitments. He’s not sure he wants to continue with some things, and we are giving him time and space to make up his own mind. We want to do whatever he does because he enjoys it and not simply because he feels he must.

There have bene instances over the years when I have dragged Beckett away from a great time he was having with friends to a sports practice. I then spent the entire drive reminding him he made a commitment, but all he really wanted was to be with his friends in the pool.

Parenting is a sea of constant questioning whether the right thing is being done by and for the kids. The end goal is to raise well-rounded and kind humans, but there’s a lot of guilt and doubt along the way for parents.

Excuse me now as I need to run to a youth basketball game I’m coaching. If you need me, you can find me and Pam with Beckett at Northside Park on Tuesday and Thursday nights for basketball and Saturday and Sunday afternoons for soccer and in Salisbury for speech therapy for Carson on Mondays and Wednesdays after school.

As you can see, this “busyness” thing is a work in progress.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.