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Overworked Children and Their Parents

Theophanes is a New-England-based blogger, traveler, writer, photographer, sculptor, and lover of cats.

The Problem

I am always amazed at how stupid some people can be, and when children are added to the mix I am perpetually horrified by bad parenting. I'm not talking about abuse; I'm talking about over-scheduling. I'm talking about the poor children who I'm surprised 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 five 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.

Just because a game is fun does not mean it won't eventually turn into work for the overscheduled child.

Just because a game is fun does not mean it won't eventually turn into work for the overscheduled child.

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 than they are going to school or being a child, there's something wrong with the picture! I'm sure the beginning of every day is fun for these little monkeys, but are they really enjoying it by the end? So many times I've seen parents push their children not to take any days off. 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.

Ice skating— a beautiful and often grueling sport. It could be a great way to work out the excess energy of a highly active child—or a long-term nightmare for those trying to achieve Olympic fame.

Ice skating— a beautiful and often grueling sport. It could be a great way to work out the excess energy of a highly active child—or a long-term nightmare for those trying to achieve Olympic fame.

I'm Giving Them 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.

So your kid is good at kicking a ball - don't let it get to your head. Junior did not pick his career as a professional soccer player at age 5.

So your kid is good at kicking a ball - don't let it get to your head. Junior did not pick his career as a professional soccer player at age 5.

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!

Chess can be a great challenge for the mind of a gifted child... So long as their parents don't let them become obsessive. Games should be fun! Not work!

Chess can be a great challenge for the mind of a gifted child... So long as their parents don't let them become obsessive. Games should be fun! Not work!

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.

College used to be something to strive for but increasingly large amounts of graduates are entering the workforce to do minimum wage jobs to pay for their student loans.

College used to be something to strive for but increasingly large amounts of graduates are entering the workforce to do minimum wage jobs to pay for their student loans.

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!

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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.

In Conclusion

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.


Stickman99 on May 03, 2020:

I am 90% overworking

Legend Wolf VN on September 21, 2019:

That's what is going on with me. I'm 16 and next year I'm going to study aboard. But now my mom is putting me to 5 extra classes, piling up my week so it's like I'm always running away from time. My homework is not completed, so I always stay until 12 and wake up at 4 to catch up with all of them, plus my exams. I know that one of them (IELTS extra classes) is crucial, but the others are not. What's even worse is that my piano teacher is forcing me to put more effort in it. Like come on, I'm not a robot. I need breaks.

Rose on January 14, 2019:

I just moved to a university town and they’re more rigorous already, but now my mom is demanding for me to do so much more stuff. I loved science by the end of last year but then she forced me to do science Olympiad and science fair at the same time, yells at me if i don’t understand my math homework, so i end up staying up till midnight every night trying to understand. She gets mad if i have a low a or fair something. I love band so i don’t mind doing allot of the stuff she demands me to do, but then she tells me if i didn’t practice the day before, to practice three hours. I already have anxiety and depression, and i never go out with my friends cause I’m already socially awkward and it’s not like i have time anyway. She always says “i never had these oppertunities” which is true since she wasn’t born in the US so i understand she just wants a better future for me, but this is too much. I wish she would stop and just let me calm down for a second, but even on the weekends, she wakes me up early, says to practice my math and EVERYTHING. And i told her i’m Feeling overworked but she says I’m lying because of one hour before bed once that week where i finally got to calm down. There’s all those events and on top of that high school drama, and the stress of keeping my grades up. I feel stifled.

Kyle on June 13, 2018:

I usually only get about 2.5 hours of sleep anymore. Then i have to work 20 hours because of my parents. I only get 30 minutes to myself each day.

SharonBallantine on November 13, 2014:

Like most things in life, there must be a balance between work and play. When we over schedule our children we deprive them of the opportunity to learn to exercise their creativity and the ability to be happy alone.

When we encourage our kids to tap into their Internal Guidance System to know which activities are the right ones for them, we may be quite surprised.

Some kids will opt for a less competitive sports team because it affords them time for other activities. Other kids may be guided to focus on one specific area of interest.

One of our jobs as parents is to expose our kids to options, but also to help them listen to their own hearts so they do not get caught up in doing something because we want them to or because it is what their best friend is doing.

cc on May 03, 2014:

I can't do it anymore i just want to stop. My parents make me do so many things for my skiing and i don't want to do it anymore. they are making me miss school during a very important time to go to a camp i don't want to go to. And when i tell them i don't want to go they said its not up to u.. Its my life! I used to love skiing more than anything in the world and now its all they let me have time to think about. I can't do it anymore. Im only 14 and already extremely burnt out

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on April 07, 2014:

I am so sorry to hear that Amelia. I wish I could give you some advice that would help but it sounds like your parents are pretty set in their thinking. But look at the bright side, you're a teenager now, it'll only be a few years before you'll be on your own and be able to make your own choices. There's no shame in having some down time when you need it! As long as you can get by financially things like sleep and resting are actually really good things to attend to - these things will keep you healthy in body and mind. Hang in there.

amelia on April 05, 2014:

im 14 and my parents are making me work at the family coffee shop. I have to wake up and 4:30 in the morning, and I have band practice until 4:30 after school. I barely have enough to do homework, yet enough get enough sleep. all day every Saturday and sunday they want me to work too. I had to miss my best friend's birthday party because of work. today my dad punished me for not working hard enough and I had a panic attack. all I do is work now and im tied and stressed..

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on January 21, 2013:

Wowzer, this article is not to discourage parents from letting their children play sports. Sports have their place, if the child enjoys them there's no reason why he or she shouldn't have the opportunity to partake. Three times a week still leaves a few days off and an hour and a half is probably still an enjoyable amount of time. This article is about parents who have their children scheduled from 6AM to 10PM every night doing everything. They do exist and I feel they are getting more and more prominent in our society even getting their own terminology like "tiger moms." Its disturbing. I don't care who you are, child or adult, you do need at least some "down time" to keep mentally stable. That's all I am saying.

wowser on January 20, 2013:

I push my son at sport but A hes exceptionally good and B he really enjoys it however I never over do it and give him time to rest etc and never ever critiscise. And he always has a days break in between training I have had moron parents say "Why cant you just go out and have some fun?'' My reply is A here yous are talking about time poor lives etc yet I bet over half of you are in dead end jobs and spend 40 plus hours a week working and when you put that into perspective that's madness... My son trains three times per week, for an hour and a half each time and competes on a weekend and if he does make it this will be his routine for the rest of his sporting life as opposed to a 40 hour week in a crap job ;). Oh I forgot to mention your kids are at school a minimum of 6 hours a day training for that crappy job. But hey I am the one whos stupid ive lost count of the parents who have incinuated this just like yous have above in the column.

kelleyward on February 11, 2012:

This is a very important hub. There is a fine line between allowing your children to be involved and keeping the right balance in your family. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas on this important subject. Kids need time to be kids!

jacqui2011 from Norfolk, UK on August 14, 2011:

Excellent hub. I think that children should be allowed to be children. At my daughters school, I see children who's parents push them into every after school sports club and activity. If my daughter wants to take part in something I would allow her to do it, but would never push her into anything. Thanks for an interesting article.

kitty on July 02, 2011:

yeah i think kids do need a brake they should be a kid while they have a chance then when their all grown up all they want to do is kids things. I support this website only if people where more like this we would not have problems talking to our kids ,Thank you

Grace Marguerite Williams from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on May 29, 2011:

Tp Theopanes: Amen, amen, how I agree with you. I know as a fact, children who are overscheduled eventually rebel because they want some down time. As a child, I was overscheduled by my mother who wanted to involve me in a multitude of activities. When I was teenager, I said enough and I had nothing but down time outside of school. I am an introvert and welcomed the time alone and to be totally at peace.

max on May 02, 2011:

Hallalujah! Somebody else who sees how overworked, overscheduled and overorganized the lives of current children are. Between schoolwork, school activities, sports teams, and there are family functions, trips here, there and everywhere (because after all, little Egbert just can't miss out on a trip to the zoo this month!),

life is a non-stop multitasked nightmare for both the kids and the parents.

Kids should be allowed to just freakin' stay HOME and play and have down-time. As a kid, I spent 99% of my childhood life just being home, playing with kids on my block. In the summer especially, I had nowhere I "had" to be. I just got up, played, hung out with the nearby kids. There was no plan, no schedule, no organized teams.

It was WONDERFUL and I don't regret one minute of it.

kim on April 20, 2011:

I am so happy that someone else is on the same page as me,i have been saying this for ages and people just laugh at me and think i'm mad but i do believe that alot of people are expecting their children to live their dreams that they never got to do when they were kids so yes grow up!! let your kids choose their things they enjoy and encourage them,and not yourself!!

Maureen on January 21, 2011:

You should proofread and spell check your posts before publishing--"opportunities" and "preparing" are blatant mistakes but there are more...

AutumnLockwood from Northern California on November 14, 2010:

I totally agree with this! We must let our children have fun and not make them who we wanted to be when were younger.

Bob on November 09, 2010:

Your tone here is a little tough to swallow, but I agree as a whole. I think life teaches us that it's much better to be really good at one thing versus being ok at several. At the end of the day, we are the parents and we have to make them choose one and stick with it; even if it's not fun. That will teach them more life skills than any sport!

adorababy from Syracuse, NY on July 04, 2010:

It is really sad to feel the frustrations of these kids who are coerced by their parents to do something just because this was their long unfulfilled dream.

jbd3 on February 28, 2010:

I agree 100% !!!!!!!! I'm so mad right now >:-(

shazwellyn on October 31, 2009:

I enjoyed your perspective on this. I have another view on things, will be interesting to hear what you think.

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on September 07, 2009:

I am so sorry to hear that NiChak. Hang in there. You seem like you have a good head on your shoulders, I'm sure you'll do very well once you enter the real world. having already gone through some things other kids may have not. Best and warm wishes.

NiChak on June 17, 2009:

I wish my parents could read this.

My parents freak out if I get a B. And they get pissed off if I do something wrong. And they always say I'm useless and can't do anything and yet they still ask me to do stuff. Sometimes I really want to kill myself I mean no kidding. Like serious. I'm only 13 and I'm near death from suicide. But I can go through this until I move out (YESSSS!!!). And I always get picked on at school for being a nerd and such, just cause I get good grades. I try really hard to improve my grades. If my parents see anything under an A they kill me. All I got is basketball like only 1 hour a day and online games that I play when they are asleep. Because I can't play outside if it's too hot or too cold. They always say too me that I'm too short, I'm too fat, I'm useless. Noyone is perfect and I'm not nowhere near perfect. All I do is try to acheieve my goals on my own. Be in NBA or be an engineer. Sorry if I misspelled some things.

Cindy Vine from Cape Town on April 16, 2009:

Korean parents have to be the worst at putting stress on their kids. Besides school, they have music lessons, swimming lessons, English lessons, maths lessons, and most little kids only finish with all these lessons way past little kids bedtimes so they have no time to play and be kids.

marisuewrites from USA on April 16, 2009:

Well said. Parents, listen and heed the advice. Let your children find out who they are, at their own speed with encouragement and praise from their moms and dads. They already are the best...

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on January 15, 2009:

Oh I'm sorry to hear that feary. Have you talked to your parents on the issue? B's are better than F's! When you graduate no one will know how well or bad you did, except possibly college but it sounds like you have the charcter to make up for that! Good luck in calming your life down a bit and thank you for dropping by.

feary on January 15, 2009:

thank u for this. my parents push me so much that my friends can see that it have change me. i have fled to their house just so i am not put in to another sports, club, or activity. they also pull me with how my grades are and how they should better. they say a b is bad how is that bad really i mean think about it. i loved playing sports and school but now that i am pull to a sport that i now hate i cannot take it. back to what i saying thanks this was very good

how to increase vertical on December 16, 2008:

I do agree with this.. You keep rocking... Thanks for the excellent Hub!... keep going on with the good process....I was still wondering at your info's ideas..Thanks for sharing the ideas..Its really a pertinent info for all of one..

Stacie L on October 24, 2008:

I totally agree! I was a teacher and saw how exhausted kids were every day'cause mom and dad wanted them to have all their activities listed on their college applications

MOmmagus on March 22, 2008:

I like this hub. my parents use to push me really hard in sports and then be angry when I didn't perform well. it's not a good way to build the parent-child relationship. People should support and encourage THEIR CHILD'S interests, rather than living out their own dreams vicariously.

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