Thursday, July 30, 2015

Killing Childhood

Below is my response to what I think is a very important organization. We have parents who are too involved in their kids lives in very unhealthy ways. The most obvious activity is sports, but other activities have their problems too such as when a girl not ready for pointe shoes due to her lack of ankle strength and muscle tone had her mother yell at my daughter who is degreed in dance and familiar with what a young dancer must do to prepare for the often challenging move to pointe shoes. It's just one example-I have many more.....

Here's the blog:
Changing the Game

Here's my response:
Whether it is dance, football or basketball parents have gotten way too involved in their children's lives and not in a good way. I've seen members of the PTA climbing the backstop at a LIttle League game screaming at the umpire. I've seen parent coaches claim that kids they knew were years older were younger for the sake of winning all the games. In one case, on my son's under 14 soccer team during a tournament, I watched as the father of the team's star player paced the field shouting commands often in direct conflict to the coach. The son, a truly skilled player, ran down the field heading for the goal and then his dad shouted. The kid stopped, glared at his dad and kicked the ball to a player on the opposing team. That kid never played soccer after that year. My own son, not a star, but a solid player, still plays as an adult and watches games whenever he can find them. Which player would you rather have on your college team?

And this is the problem. Parents are trying to game the system. They hold kids from Kindergarten in hopes they will be older, bigger and faster as a 19 year old on the football field. They sign kids up for multiple sports like the girl in my third period who had either select soccer or select volleyball practices or games every single day. It starts in grade school. Parents have 'activities' every day. There's no chance for playing with neighborhood friends without making an appointment. As a result, kids don't know how to create games on their own. It's a problem.

It is not that sports or dance or whatever your kid competes in is a bad thing, but in life it should not be the ONLY thing that defines your child. I think it is so sad when we have kids who are gifted artists or writers or performers who can't take those classes because their one focus is something else. Do we really want our kids to be so limited in life? One of the saddest cases was a beautiful girl who was an amazing artist and could have gotten a full ride at any of the elite design schools. She loved art. But Mom wanted her to play golf-a game she didn't like and wasn't very good at-because Mom read she could get a scholarship. This same Mom forced the girl to go to nursing school when the poor kid had no interest in the profession. Ten or so years down the road, this kid will burn out.

Kids need variety in life. This is the only childhood they will have. Parents need to stop living vicariously through their children. I hate the excuse "this is the child's choice' because children want to please their parents. Our children should not be held to the Victorian ideal of being tiny adults. As one of my athletes who was a competitive skater said "This is not my life, it is the life my parents want for me." She would be at the local rink from five to seven every morning and five to nine every night. We fought against child labor-but please tell me what the difference is with this kind of schedule?

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