His life is out of control…REALLY???


By Kenneth Justice

~ Yesterday at coffee a mid-fortyish mother and her teenage daughter came in to grab a quick coffee-fix on their way to the daughter’s volleyball practice, the mother was talking loudly into her cell phone,

I can’t do Monday because Andrea has a volleyball game and Tuesday and Wednesday won’t work either because I have to drive her to dance classes, I could fit you in on Thursday around 7 pm in-between her piano lessons and soccer practice as long as we’re done no later than 8:15 because I have to pick her up early so she gets to bed on time since we are leaving early Friday morning for the basketball camp she is in for the weekend

Whew! Soccer, basketball, dance, piano and basketball camp; sounds like an all-American suburban summer. I must be old school because I remember my summers as a youth being pretty lame and quiet; squirt gun fights with my friends, horsing around in the swimming pool, and playing pickup basketball with the kids in my neighborhood.

Obviously there is nothing wrong with people or parents that enjoy filling up their schedules with endless activities and places they drive their children to and fro; it’s up to each person to figure out what works best for their life…RIGHT??? There’s no right or wrong way to raise your children…is there???

The older I get the more I realize that telling a parent they should reconsider how they are raising their children is an easy way to get that parent pissed off; nobody wants to be told they are doing something wrong. My Uncle Bob used to tell me, “When the truth is first presented it is almost always initially rejected”.

Nonetheless, it’s not really my place to tell people the ‘right’ way to raise children. If you want to enroll your children in 10 different extra-curricular activities it’s not an issue of morality; it’s merely a choice that you’ve made.

I suspect that a lot of us confuse choices with morality. There’s nothing inherently moral or immoral about many of the choices we face in life;

—) What kind of automobile you purchase

—) Where you decide to live

—) Whether your children play organized athletics or not

—) What time of vocation you work

I’ve talked with a lot of people who feel guilty about the choices they make on an everyday basis. One woman told me she felt guilty if she stayed home instead of hanging out with her friends; “I feel like I’m a bad person if I tell my friends I don’t want to hang out for the evening” she said.

So often in life we are quick to infuse morality upon situations where morals are not really at play. And even though I’m not a big fan of children being enrolled in so many different organized activities; it’s not an issue of morality, but rather it’s merely a matter of perspective.

Just a few thoughts I had while drinking my coffee this morning,


Categories: Culture & Society

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47 replies

  1. Some parents think the more activities I can get my child involved, the more “rounded” better adult my child will become, this will also keep my child out of “trouble.” I wonder if all this involvement actually affect his/her decision making skills and if this will increase the need to be “perfect.”

  2. I like Uncle Bob’s aphorism. Would be interested in hearing more about Uncle Bob.

  3. Right? I’m sooo with you. Coming from a church that ambiguously chose rules to keep and others to ignore, black and white morals are way more pronounced in my view. However, the older I get and the more Andy and I, and my new church study group, encourage me to think about choices and morals more than just blindly follow the rules, I see the gray area more and more.

    Truth: According to the Bible, anything that is done in love is moral so are the intentions moral right or wrong or actions?

  4. I think you’re right, some things are better left unsaid when it comes to parenting decisions. (Unless the decisions are abusive or hurtful) I personally hate to be overscheduled–it completely stresses me out. Because of this, I didn’t allow my children to be overscheduled–after all, I was their chauffeur for quite a while. I let them do one activity at a time, so they had to choose which one was most important to them and when they were tired of one activity and wanted to move on to another. I’ll totally agree that my motive for one activity each was completely self-serving. I had friends telling me that I wasn’t keeping them busy enough; that the world would expect them to move at a much faster pace with multiple activities once they were grown. I still did things my own way and they turned out better than fine (one is in her 4th year of medical school and the other is a human resources specialist for a local company).

  5. Among all these activities, parents need to ensure they still have time to spend with their children.

  6. There were 9 of us in our family. We were told ‘go outside and play’. That worked for us.

  7. Well, there’s an assumption that the parent is the one who wanted the kid to do that but I’m guessing that teenager also had some say – I’m willing to bet she enjoys at least a few of those activities and wanted to participate. That said, I’d be more worried that the kid would burn out and then lash out rather than it being a moral issue. Kids who are active in extra-curricular activities tend to stay out of trouble more often (please not the word ‘tend’) etc. It is funny how we inject morality into things that really have no call for it. I do also agree with Uncle Bob’s assessment about truth (or at very least someone else’s perception of the truth).

  8. I’m satisfied if my children follow one dream at the time.

  9. It’s not so much morality as it is a worrying balance. How is the child to be able to cope with deciding what to do should their ever-full schedule become light? If all you know is structure, it can be quite intimidating and difficult to adapt to times when such structure ceases to exist.

    Just look at the troubles former soldiers can have fitting into regular society after their military service is complete, for example.

  10. Very true- not only do I choose to let my kids live simply, I also have a totally different perspective on education from most people. I have to tread very carefully when sharing my viewpoint, trying to find the right balance between confident in my own choices and still accepting of others. Parents will get defensive quite easily if they feel like your choice is somehow undermining theirs. When in reality, my choice has nothing to do with their choice- it’s more about what is right for my family. Obviously I think kids should have more free time and less scheduled activities, just like I think an alternative approach to learning is not a bad idea. But it’s my opinion- not fact, and I respect that others may choose differently and still be great parents and raise happy kids.

    • Education has become such a touchy subject because in so many countries it is a failing enterprise; many of us are starting to suggest its time to rethink how we do ‘education’

  11. That is a lot for the kid to juggle, wow! I can only imagine that she is as high strung as her mother, and they’re both happy with this. I try and keep my kids in some programs during the week, but they also need to know how to occupy themselves with a stick at the lake. That’s the balance we try to keep for us.

  12. I agree…..You are treading on dangerous ground when giving advice to parents on how to raise their children. A lot depends on circumstances. My parents had very little discretionary income which meant I could not take dance lessons or even afford state college tuition. I was determined to give my children an opportunity to pursue any activity they wanted to explore. My daughter did just that and ran me ragged! On the other hand, my son’s appetites were a lot more limited. In the final analysis, as adults my son is a lot more outgoing, and my daughter is rather a homebody. Everyone finds their own way.

  13. From time to time, maybe, you should a cup of tea in the morning. It’s always worked for the English. On second thoughts, maybe that’s not such a good idea.

  14. I wish I had an Uncle Bob.

    I guess the idea is the more your kid is involved in the more successful they will be in the future. Everyone wants their kid to be a winner.

  15. You know, before we found out that our son had Asperger’s, we took him to a doctor for a general checkup (had just moved to new city). My son didn’t like being poked and prodded and so he was difficult. He was complaining and stressed out and ended up pinching the doctor. The doctor then said to us, “The problem is that he hasn’t been raised/taught properly. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT! I was pretty p-oed. That’s all I can say.
    p.s. I’m not a huge fan of making my kids super busy with organized activities either. Plus, I don’t have the money for all that. hehehe.

    • Wow, the audacity of that doctor! It would have taken a lot for me not to had bopped him in the nose for that nastiness!

    • Tell me about it. I’m very outspoken (well, getting better at it now), but holy cow. Who does he think he is? I should have bopped him in the nose.

    • I DEFINITELY would have bopped him and then…… strangled him. But seriously, why do some medical professionals think they know everything about you after a 10-15 minute consultation?

    • Hahaha. Yea, Brazil (let alone North-east Brazil) is about 30 years behind when it comes to knowing about autism. This doctor was older and I think he was set in his ideas and ways of child-rearing and proper behavior for a kid that’s being raised well. Needless to say, we never went back to him.

  16. Yup, telling parents how they should raise their kids…might as well jump in front of a Mack truck. And I agree, it’s mostly choice.
    And I’m also in total agreement with the rest…keep coming with the Uncle Bob-isms! Maybe a whole post, or a series on what you’ve learned from Uncle Bob. Good stuff! 🙂

  17. I can well understand why some parents might be active in filling their children’s out-of-school hours with organised activities, but if you don’t encourage your children to use their imagination and play freely, how in the hell do you expect them to take responsibility and be creative as adults.

    If a child wants to play a sport or go to art or music classes, let them. But don’t complain about how exhausting it is to drive them around and meet their schedules. Don’t encourage them to have all their spare hours organised into timetables.

    Children need time to be children, not lead hectic social and extra-curricular lives.

    No wonder many young adults get into trouble these days – they don’t know how to amuse themselves without some rigid structure and limits imposed by parents. They don’t know how to use their initiative and imagination.

  18. Indeed, Kenneth, the vocation we choose is always confused with morality


  19. Yes, it’s a busy world — and I’m guilty as everybody in getting too wrapped up in busyness. Kids, too. All four of my kids played sports and three of them participated in college. Organized sports is so different than in my day. In order to even participate it takes a time commitment. Was it worth it. I think so. Because with positive and support parenting — no creating expectations on quality of performance — you can focus on the joy of competition and the benefits it brings. Tough to balance, though. My hat is off to every parent who has a kid involved in an activity.

  20. I love Uncle Bob. A brilliant man. I’m going to write his words down in my journal. As a parent of two, I plan on seeking balance in my own life and sharing the benefits of that balance with my husband and kids. I just cut down on my work schedule to make more time for my family, and am enjoying having simple down time. While I think the mom mentioned above is crazy–you’re right–it is her choice. But I suspect that at some point something is going to have to give. How can anyone keep up that kind of schedule, the child or the mom, for very long? Seriously, when does the mom have time to be herself, or has she become so completely absorbed in the role of chauffeur that she has forgotten there is any self at all beyond the mom persona? And also, why did she need to let the whole world in the coffee shop know what her crazy schedule was like? Loud one-sided cell phone conversations are grating to my soul, a big pet peeve of mine. Of course one could argue that if she didn’t drop that gem in front of you, none of us would have been able to enjoy its beauty. So thank you Chauffeur Mom for blabbing, and thank you Culture Monk for sharing her blabber with us!

  21. I read an article about how parents molly coddle their kids too much. This is now, an international phenomena.

  22. People do tend to confuse choices and morality. Makes them easy targets to manipulate by guilt trippers.

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