Overworked Children and Their Parents
I am always in wide-eyed amazement at how stupid some people can be, and when children are added to the mix I have to be perpetually horrified by just bad parenting in general. I'm not talking about abuse, as we see it today, I'm talking about over scheduling. I'm talking about the poor children who you wonder why they haven't collapsed dead on the lawn yet from exhaustion, pushed beyond their limits by none other than their parents!
I hear comments like "Oh, I don't know why little Timmy does nothing but sleep when he comes home. You'd think he'd be just as hyper at home as he is on the 5 sports teams he's on." and "I don't know why my child is perpetually crying and breaking down!" Can you be that stupid? I sit back just wanting to throttle these idiots.
But Little Timmy Likes Basketball!
This is the number one excuse I hear out of each of these parents' mouths. They insist their children just love to be out playing basketball, or baseball, or Olympic swimming, it really doesn't matter. I don't doubt that most children do enjoy these activities - to a point. However when they are spending more hours a day "practicing" and going to tournaments then they are going to school or being a child, there's something wrong with the picture! I'm sure the beginning of each and every day is fun for these little monkeys, but are the really enjoying it by the end? So many times I've seen parents push their children not to take any days off, not for mental or physical health. Children are not mature creatures. They are not capable of knowing what's best for themselves, that's why parents have to do their job and know when something is becoming too much for their child.
I'm Giving Him/Her Opportunities I Never Had
This one is a good point to make. Indeed when most of these children's parents were growing up they didn't have all the luxuries of being able to choose from a vast array of sports, clubs, and activities. Hell, nowadays you can even join robot clubs where you can build robots to kill other robots (how endearing - still it's the closest thing to playing a sport some of us will ever get.) Initially I don't think there is anything wrong with choice, or taking some of those opportunities. If you have a child that has varied interests and wants to join a lot of different activities then that's fine. However someone responsible should be stepping in and saying these kids can only pick what's most interesting to them, not all of them. It's a classic kid in the candy store complex. Sure, allow a kid into a candy store and say they can have anything they want they'll come out with bagfuls of everything. Only the next morning when they feel like the gingerbread man kicked the piss out of them will they learn that this was probably the wrong thing to do. Still, being kids they'd probably repeat that particular mistake time and time again. That's why they need someone looking out for them.
But Junior Could Get into the Big Leagues!
Yeah, I've heard that too. Your little brat is so intensely into some sport or another that someday he's going to be the greatest damn athlete that ever walked the earth. He'll get paid millions to play on a team and win a gold metal. He or she will be so big that they'll be a household name. Right. Like that's going to happen.
The chances of making the big leagues, an Olympic team, or anything else is slim to nil for anyone. I'd hate to break it to these parents but the vast majority of professional athletes were not raised from Kindergarten to be lean mean sports machines. Hell no, if you put that on a child eventually they're going to burn out. Not only will they burn out they'll also gain injuries along the way. Did you know that athletic injuries, serious ones, are becoming a real issue to increasingly young kids these days? Kids are coming in with splintered femurs from falling the wrong way, bad knees from working the cartilage down to nothing, arthritis from overworking their growing joints, and other conditions which could possibly cripple them in later life. Is it really worth it knowing that they risk their health just to fulfill some foolish fantasy of the parent? The kids are not to be blamed for having fantasies. They're children! All children dream of becoming something big when they grow up, that doesn't mean they're going to spend every waking moment trying to achieve that goal. That's not within their natural capabilities. Goal oriented drive is something that at the earliest comes in your mid-teens.
I Wish I Could Have Had These Opportunities
And there is the truth of the entire matter! These kids aren't being overworked because they're egging their parents on to drive them into the ground. No, they're being driven because the parents want to relive their childhood through their children. Well wake up people! You can only have one childhood and stealing your children's is going to do nothing but make them hostile and bitter later in life. How do you think they're going to feel when they realize after moving out that they never had the chance to go exploring with friends, have a slumber party, go out dancing, or do any of the things that kids and teens generally do while growing up? What do you think they're going to say when they realize that they don't have a simple consistent friend because of the massive isolation these activities have thrust upon them? Teammates are their only friends and once they burn out they're gone. We're making child stars of every little bundle of joy and we expect them to come out better! Ha!
We're Teaching Them Responsibility
I have to smack my head whenever I hear this one. I don't know much about parenting, seeing as I have no children of my own, but what I do know is that learning in general comes in small increments, not one walloping dose. Responsibility is not an exception! How would you feel if at the age of ten your parents sat you down and said, "You've done really well and school and we're proud of you but we feel like you're not taking on enough responsibility so we've taken the time to find you a job at the textile mills." It's really not much different! And what are you teaching your children? That resting for even a second is a sin, that they must work continuously even long after they've stopped enjoying themselves, that all goals are bound to result in failure (whether it be from burnout, injury, or just rejection from talent searchers?)
You want to teach your kid responsibility then give him or her chores. Don't make them work, and yes, if they're "playing" past the point they're happy and enjoying it, then its work. Plain and simple.
We're Preparing Them for College
This is where society itself comes in to make situations worse. I am sick of colleges deciding (quite suddenly) that every student they take on must be an insane overworked Type A personality. They tell you that you have to have a nice resume, one with extracurricular activities and volunteer work to boot, to look nice. They say without all these extra things that you won't be able to get into a good college. High school counselors say this!
What the Hell has club activities, sports, and volunteer work ever had to do with the academic world? What?? I demand to know an answer! When did someone just decide that good grades weren't good enough?! Why wasn't I given the memo? Surely if I received that memo I would have gone off my rocker. It's just not right or ethical, especially when the more expensive colleges and universities can still be paid to look the other way, even if the student in question is dumb as a goddamn rock.
Signs Your Kid is Overworked
- They are up before the crack of dawn and asleep long past dark, without taking the time out of the day to eat, sleep, or socialize.
- They have one day or less a week to 'catch up' on their homework and sleep.
- They appear lethargic and moody at home.
- Before hitting their teens they're already on more pills then their grandparents - including psychotropic drugs for anxiety and like ailments.
- Their injuries are getting increasingly serious and your physician is starting to take notice.
- They often break down in tears if something goes wrong, they don't win, or they're just had too long of a day.
- Even in the summer they aren't allowed to be children.
- They're starting to complain.
- At 8 they're already addicted to caffeine and sugar.
- It's been so long since the entire family has been in one room at the same time that they're starting to forget what everyone looks like.
- As far as you can tell they have no friends even though they're outgoing.
I would like to urge everyone out there with kids to grow up yourselves and be a responsible adult! Don't live through your children, don't push them beyond their limits, don't brainwash them to believe being a workaholic is the only way to live. I'm not saying I want a nation of sloth. I don't. Kids should still go outside and play, join sports, and run around, but they should be doing all those activities for simple and innocent reasons, not to please mom or dad, but to make themselves happy.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.