This Ain’t Your Mama’s Childhood
Are your kids stressed out? Could it be that you’re contributing, despite your best intentions? If you answered yes to either question, read on.
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Not having enough down time to relax can definitely stress a kid out. Well-intentioned parents may want to give their kids every opportunity, ones that perhaps they didn’t have, but before they know it, there’s an activity every day of the week—and everyone gets stretched too thin. Where do you draw the line?
The Kinney brothers, Gabe and Lucas, both middle school students at Cab Calloway, recognize when enough is enough. Their activities include music lessons, Scouts, aikido classes, theater workshops and more. Their parents, Allison Mack and Tony Kinney, aren’t concerned. The boys, like their parents, appreciate the need for unstructured time, so they have learned to slow down.
Even with the boys’ activities and two working parents, the family sits down to dinner together at least three times a week. When life starts to get hectic, Gabe or Lucas will say, “Hey, where’s the chill time?”
Since Adeola cut back on his extracurricular activities, he says “life feels more manageable.” His grades are better, too. The one thing he held on to was karate at Gentle Palm.
“Master [Crawley] Berry is very influential over my behavior,” he says. “He has high expectations, but he helps you get there because he believes in you. Later on I’ll think about what he said in class and I’ll see how it affects my life. I was too young when I started, but now I understand.”
“I did read all of the books, and talked to other parents,” Katie says, “but you have to find the right way that works best for you and your child.
“I have probably taken a lot from my parents, because I think they did a pretty good job. I always felt that they trusted me. Rather than being authoritative, they encouraged me to think for myself, and I’ve done that with Adeola. I’ve allowed him to make his own choices, within limits.”
And limits are good—for children and parents. Malina Spirito, a psychologist at Supporting KIDDS, makes an interesting observation: As academic and athletic activities become more structured, home life has become more unstructured.
So as childhood changes, ways of parenting evolve. DiSanto describes earlier methods as “trial-and-error.” That’s very different than the emerging styles. “Parents today feel like there’s one right way to raise their child,” he says, “and if they don’t get it right, they’ll look back and find their kid is scarred for life.”
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