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Should my child(ren) participate in this activity?

January 26, 2015

I AM CANADIAN…and so I love hockey. While a small part of me would love to live vicariously through Caleb (or Rachel or Anna) as he climbs to the NHL, I’m not convinced this should be a priority activity or life goal for my six year old son. Yet it does to bring up the question, What activities should my child(ren) participate in?

We all know the family who goes through a week from one activity to the next, stopping to breath for ten minutes on Sunday night before starting again the next morning. Often both partners are working so one drops the two (or more) kids off at school and one picks them up (unless they travel by bus). Parents inhale lunch while doing errands or a workout and then in the evening taking “Johnny” to [insert sport] practice and “Susie” to [insert instrument] lesson. “Johnny” has [sport] games on Saturday and Sunday and so one parent (or sometimes the whole family) goes to watch him play. Everyone goes to “Susie’s” recital too, and then there’s a couple friends’ birthday each month to add into the mix. As the child(ren) grow older, the increasing homework works into the daily activities.

This frenzied pace makes one feel like the proverbial hamster spinning the wheel, getting very tired yet not getting one step ahead. The solution is prioritizing the activities in your life and ensuring the top priority activities are the ones that do not get shoved aside when a different activity arises to gobble up the time.

There is not a clear answer for the question of how many activities. Some children really can (almost) do it all. They do well in school, partly because they pay attention and work hard while they are in class, and partly because their learning style fits the dominant manner of teaching and learning. They may also have natural athletic and/or musical talent and ability and so have relatively easy success in that facet of life too. Meanwhile, a sibling may need to work much harder at school and not have been blessed with athletic talent/ability. This child will need to spend more hours in both areas just to “pass” or “make the team.” Thus, to insist your child can only participate in one non-school activity may “punish” a child who could easily handle school, sports, music and another extra-curricular participation. By the same token, expecting every child to be involved in the same number of activities will only increase the other child’s frustrations and feel more embarrassed for being differently gifted then “the natural.”

A parent’s job is to lead each child to succeed in the areas God has gifted them. Thus, the answer to the question “Should my child participate in this activity?” needs to be answered as children grow with does this help them conform to the image of Christ and use their God-given gifts to bring honour to His name with their whole life.

This post is part of a larger series series answering questions related to God-centered priorities (a topic I was privileged to speak on recently at the Prairie Tabernacle Congregation) including How much money should I give to God?Should I vacation in Hawaii?, and Should I take work away from home?

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