Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Beware the Activity Monsters

Have you seen that insurance commercial where you're supposedly watching the telecast of a professional golf tournament and the announcers are speaking softly as the player is about to strike the ball?  Then all of a sudden out of the water hazard some huge octopus-like creature springs up grabbing several of the golfers by its tentacles and throwing them all around.

I have to admit I have no clue what the producers of that commercial were smoking in their design meeting. I have no interest in buying their insurance after that ad.

However, I wonder how many parents realize they and their children may have similarly been caught by the tentacles of their monster schedule, a situation that could have been avoided with a little planning and some saying "no."

I've spoken of this before and perhaps you've tired of hearing about it from me and others that our kids are being eaten alive by activity, much of it unnecessary and driven by parents. Kids no longer just play a sport (and it's rarely one anyway). They must go to camps, play year-round, take specified lessons, travel long distances and enter multiple tournaments. And we're not talking about the Michael Phelps level athletes preparing for the Olympic Trials.

This is happening with preschoolers, elementary students and middle school students whose running from activity to activity is not only wearing them out but stealing time from their personal, spiritual and emotional well-being.

Student groups in churches are often thirsty for participation and willing servants in ministry because students are now gone to tournaments all weekend, can't attend a midweek activity because of more practices or lessons or are simply too tired to give the church some extra time.

Marriages struggle because mom and dad have little face to face, quiet time just for them anymore.  On the surface they think things are fine, but their relationship is eroding and can potentially collapse if it's not given body, soul and spirit attention.

So what's the answer?  Some will say, "Gary, don't you know that my son or daughter can't move up in their sport or skill unless they do all these extra things?"

First, limit the choices. Okay, so your Ryan is potentially the next great college basketball player.  Then let him focus on that but don't grant him access to four sports. Allyssa is a phenomenal volleyball player - then, let he focus on volleyball.

Second, don't sacrifice the most important things. If you and your children have little time to serve others and be a part of your church's ministry in some way, you're too busy. If you never  take a vacation any more and your family doesn't know what it means to be together for an hour or two and just have fun, you're too busy.  If mom and dad never have time for themselves, you're too busy!

Third, make some choices that will model the lifestyle you believe your kids should lead when they are parents.

Too many activities are not just a monster of sorts. They will mess with who you are and who you become. And that's not worth the risk. Stay away from the water hazard.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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