For all of you who have taken AWARE’s online survey on village living.com, the results show that the number 2 worry you have about your children/ community is the stress that is put on our children at such a young age.
As I sit in the stands during baseball season I hear a lot of parents talk on this same subject. All I can think of is which came first the chicken or the egg? When did it get this way? Did the stress start in high school and worked its way down or did it start at rec league and start its way up? I have been gone for 10 years so I cannot say. I have a few solutions but I know y’all don’t want to hear them:) My husband might get mad.
So I will approach it from a different direction. When my children were young and I knew early on I could only handle so much before things got to me and I had to retreat, I decided to keep things simple as far as children’s activities go. I said one activity per child per season. OH, and no travel outside the county. So far so good except where games are concerned as they get into high school. Since they didn’t have so many activities we were able to all be home for dinner a lot. I didn’t realize how precious that was until now. They are older and while they still only do one activity per season, they are practicing or playing almost every day of the week.Sit down dinners are few and far between but just as precious.
I see these young families rushing to special coaches for all of their sports. I hear of first grade girls on waiting lists for private tumbling coaches so they can make cheerleading in jr high to high school. I saw my daughter practically kill herself the week she tried out for dorians. The stress on these children to excel at such a young age is scary. There are only so many spots on the teams once you get to high school. Why not just let them enjoy the activities while they are young?
Academic stress is another topic. When we registered my son John in the high school, we had to figure out what classes he had that might not count, etc from his old school. I saw that there were three different diplomas for high school graduation. At the time I did not think much about it. I thought is was kind of silly but John wasn’t going to Harvard so I wasn’t too worried about it. I didn’t ask any questions. This year I went to the freshman orientation about registration. When they got to describing the three different diplomas I have to admit I zoned out. I did hear the tidbit about the colleges to which you apply have no idea from which diploma you graduated. What?! I get all the AP and advanced and points or something to get into the big schools. Why push advanced and super advanced diploma on top of it? See? Undo stress.
I saw a Facebook post where a mom of a young child had already talked to a counselor about what is required of the different diplomas. Undo stress. Again, where did it start? Did the school board decide we needed more diplomas or did a parent who heard about it from another school approach the subject? I don’t know. I have been gone for 10 years. It is probably not my place to say.
Mountain Brook is a community of overachievers without pushing it to the limit. If this community’s second major concern for their children is stress, it has to start at home. Take your child out of that extra training class and take him or her to get ice cream. Ask your child what they want. Get to know your child. Parents say they don’t see depression/anxiety in their child. We are such a busy society now that we don’t just sit and listen and learn the cues our children are sending us. If they want to push themselves in a sport or a certain diploma tell them to go for it. But tell them to do it for themselves not for you or for what your friends will say or what their friends will say.
I am not pointing fingers because I find myself doing the same thing. But I did spend time with them in their younger years. We didn’t do extra coaches/trainers. We were at home. I am glad because now that they are in jr high and high school I don’t see them anymore. They are always at a school activity. I have to pay more attention when they are at home. It is tough because I know there is a lot of social pressure and stress just being a teenager.
Our children will be gone before we know it. What do we have to show for it but an empty wallet and memories of driving all over the southeast so our child can play a sport better at the age of 10. But who stops it? I hear parents every week at rec sports fussing about this same problem. Who is brave enough to put their foot down on this merry go round and slow down.
Don’t let your child grow up under so much stress that they don’t enjoy their school age years. Let them be kids. Hug your kids, tell them you love them, tell them they did an awesome job and take them to get ice cream or frozen yogurt.:)