My daughter has been taking ballet since she was 3. It is probably the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. All the little girls in their pink tights and matching pink shoes will make your heart ache just looking at them! I love seeing my daughter learn the steps, grow in her athleticism and take instruction from another adult. It’s been such a great experience–and one my daughter really enjoys.
Sitting in the lobby with the other moms and dads for the past almost 3 years, I’ve overheard lots about how others raise their kids. Many of the kids my daughter’s age (a mere 5 years old!) have their children in multiple dance classes, sports and music classes all at the same time. Topped off with at least 3-day-a-week preschool or kindergarten where they are learning to read and write!
I do not think ANY of those things are bad, sinful or hurtful. But I do think they can inadvertently replace parenthood. It’s easy to let parenthood’s main tool become the mini-van. We taxicab our kids to ballet to learn poise, soccer to learn athleticism, school to gain education, to playdates to learn sharing, to storytime to hear good literature and to church to meet God. Then we get home and send the kids to bed without a meaningful conversation between us.
Kevin Leman has a book called, It’s Your Kid, Not a Gerbil: Creating a Happier & Less-Stressed Home(which I think is hilarious!) and although I haven’t read it yet, I heard him speak on the subject. His main point is that our kids do too much. We try so hard to make them a better person by expanding their horizons and building their skills. We sign them up for and chauffeur them to all these activities. But we haven’t given them time to be kids, to hang out with their siblings or connect with us as parents. Our children enjoy these things, yes. But sometimes we forget that our kids also thrive and crave instruction, relationship and time with us.
We tend to let others teach our kids because we think they know best. After all, doesn’t the children’s pastor know better how to teach our kids about Jesus than us? Doesn’t the coach know more about teamwork than us? Maybe. But they do not replace what a parent brings to a child’s life.
I think fostering belonging in our home comes from spending time together. Cutting out just one or two events or classes from your schedule will free up gobs of time to spend as a family. My husband’s family had a rule growing up that they could only be in one sport/activity per season. With four kids, that was probably all they could handle anyway! But it also gave them a chance to do what they wanted as a family, be involved in church and keep life in perspective.
I’m not remotely suggesting that kids shouldn’t be in sports or enrichment activities. I’m only suggesting you look at your daily life and evaluate what’s the most important–does your schedule AND your child’s schedule reflect your family’s goals and desires?