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05:43 PM on 03/15/2011
It's great to finally read an article letting parents know that it's "OK" not to have your child in every activity under the sun. I didn’t work so my child never went to pre-school but instead took ballet 1x/wk (later jazz) for 5 yrs, learned “pre-school skills” at home, & just played. Later took up guitar for about a yr, went to Girls Scouts 1x/wk. She did not participate in any organized sports, ever. I did NOT arrange play dates. As a tweener, she took horseback riding lessons 1x/wk. Eventually, by luck, she got a horse, which was the best thing ever. It taught responsibility, confidence, she made lifelong friends (both girls & adults) & boys weren’t an issue! Horses became her life.

I used to wonder if I made a mistake by not having her join a million things. Well, she graduated from a large, PUBLIC high school in the top 5% and is at a very large college that has a 61% acceptance rate. Her grades are fantastic; she has wonderful new friends & is most importantly happy & healthy!

To any new mother out there, do not feel pressured into what others consider “the norm”. Brush off the questions of why your child doesn’t play multiple organized sports yr round, play 5 musical instruments, or have X amt of pre-plan play times/wk. Let you kid kick back & just be a kid!
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05:04 PM on 03/15/2011
Enjoyed the article very much. I have four young children, ages 6 to 13. In fact, my six year old just had her birthday party. A small at home party with Pin the Tail on the Donkey, clothespin dropped into an old-fashioned milk bottle, Hot Potato and a pinata. The kids had a blast. Unfortunately, we live in a neighborhood without many other children. Fortunately, we live on a wooded lot with a creek, so they have lots of fun (along with bug bites). I've often wondered why people waste money on Einstein videos when I don't recall reading that he used videos while growing up. You couldn't pay me to want one of my children to be a genius. I want them to be content and hopefully not too stressed out by the weird events going on in the world. We don't avoid discussing them, I just spend time putting the events in perspective for them.
kellygreen
"Ideology is the Science of Idiots" John Adams
04:57 PM on 03/15/2011
"Moderation in All Things".

---Aristotle.

It is interesting how often we human beings have to keep reinventing the wheel....because we either forget, or think we know better than our predecessors.
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Debby Carroll
Certified Wellness Coach
04:53 PM on 03/15/2011
This post totally resonated with me. My girls are all grown now but when they were younger, I sometimes felt that the world of parenting was spinning all around me out of control but that, like in the story of "The Emperor's New Clothes," I was the only one who knew it. I saw parents over-scheduling their kids -- music lessons, organized sports, religious schools, special tutoring for kids who were doing just average work in school, etc. All this while my "just average" daughters were doing just okay in school, not learning how to fence, not finding a cure for cancer in my basement, not excelling at... well... anything. They were playing in the yard, playing with Barbies, reading and coloring, playing with clay, and being actual ordinary kids. Ultimately, they are grew up and I didn't have to hire a tutor to get them there. Plus, they all chose to be teachers and while a lot of the world is anti-teacher these days, I am so proud of them. Last year at my oldest daughter's wedding, people came up to me all night and said, "Wow, your daughters are so amazing." And I thought, "Nope, they're just ordinary women." But then I concluded that maybe that IS amazing.
http://raisingamazingdaughters.wordpress.com
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Cubanmom
Obama '08-'16-Hillary '16-'24!
03:41 PM on 03/15/2011
Wonderful article! I am glad my four are grown! So much pressure on kids and parents, nuts! Let's let kids be kids, life is tough enough!
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Abi Cotler O'Roarty
02:53 PM on 03/15/2011
Great piece! I would also add that the activities your children are doing now are really needed to be traditionally successful in life (if not school): creative self-directed play, getting bored and seeking what they are interested in, and really importantly--using their right brain. This is an area of the brain that is rarely focused on these days in school, or in the over-scheduled after school life of kids. But what makes a good CEO if not creative problem solving skills and a passion for what she knows she is interested in?
You may be interested in the film, Race To Nowhere, as it will make you feel even better about all you are doing for your kids by giving them space to have a childhood:) http://www.racetonowhere.com/

Yea for JOY!
Best,
Abi
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kapalabhati
Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu
02:15 PM on 03/15/2011
Is "Independent High School" the new euphamism for $25,000 a year private school?
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marianproletarian
03:43 PM on 03/15/2011
Is that what it means? I'm so out of it. Why should sports have anything to do with getting into a private school?
01:36 PM on 03/15/2011
My two children- 5 & 7 participate in martial arts 3 days a week, they each have at least one play date with a friend each week after school, my older son participates in his school choir & goes to PT twice a week, and they each have weekly homework that requires time set aside each day to complete. They have very little free time after school. Weekends are sacred family fun time. But my, what I believe to be, busy kids are not the norm in my community. Parents ask why my kids aren't enrolled in this or that. Way aren't they in soccer? Competetive swimming? Baseball? What do your kids do with their free time? I see parents racing around town, each and every week, tired and crazed, as are their kids, trying to make it to each event and activity. Often times their kids' day ends at 6:30 when they race home for dinner & homework. I'm sorry, but I just can't stomach that kind of life. I want my kids to know how to be with themselves, in their own thoughts, using their imagination to keep them busy, alert & content. I want them to enjoy their time at home with their family and pets, playing with friends, helping me cook or tinkering in the garage with their dad. I worry for this generation. The video says it all - we are numbing ourselves and it scares me.
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lrobb
Gold standard = four paws and a tail
02:12 PM on 03/15/2011
Good grief. Has parenting changed that much in a generation?

Maybe we need to get back to being parents instead of our progenys' social secretaries and life coaches.
kellygreen
"Ideology is the Science of Idiots" John Adams
05:03 PM on 03/15/2011
Yep.

...and we wonder why our culture is turning out entire generations of neurotics.

We are so busy compulsively DOING..that we have no time or appreciation for BEING...and then we wonder why we are so desperately unhappy.

Well it must mean that I'm not doing enough...or I don't have enough or the right things....so I have to do more!!

....and around the squirrel-cage we go again...
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Badger33
I'm trying real hard to be the shepherd.
01:11 PM on 03/15/2011
I think you got it. A big obstacle to children living an ordinary childhood is their parents' conviction that their children are exceptional in some way.
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lrobb
Gold standard = four paws and a tail
02:20 PM on 03/15/2011
My children were and are exceptional in every way, simply because they are mine.

Which is why I love Reobert Heinlin's famous quote from "Time Enough for Love":

"Delusions are often functional. A mother's opinions about her childres' beauty, intelligence, goodness, et cetera, keep her from drowning them at birth."
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marianproletarian
03:43 PM on 03/15/2011
:-) That is also why they children are cute.
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Ljilja
http://graciouslivingdaybyday.com/
12:58 PM on 03/15/2011
Oh, to be a child! Careless, curious, happy, taken care of, that is the essence of bliss.

Don't take it away.

It doesn't mean that there is no room in this kind of childhood for books and music. There is room for everything - but love, patience and balance should be the goal.

http://graciouslivingdaybyday.com/
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lrobb
Gold standard = four paws and a tail
12:11 PM on 03/15/2011
Why do your children have to get into the best or most exclusive educational institution? With a little old fashioned parental attention and a regularly scheduled homework session at the dining room table they can learn just fine at the local public school.

Local community colleges are a real asset even for kids who go on to a four year or advanced degree. After all, no one ever asks where they spent the first two years.

Even when considering a four-year institution, don't negate the one in your city or county. I graduated from a University of California campus where I never got to speak with anyone higher up on the food chain than a graduate assistant until I was a senior. Most of my classes were in large halls with 300 other students.

My daughter went to the local U at a greatly reduced cost and had what amounted to seminar classes from the freshman year on. She got the education as an undergraduate I had to wait for grad school to find.

The one lodestar for my efforts in raising--and now relating to--my kids is what will be their quality of life at whatever age I happen to be at the time. Eliminating the kneepads makes it much easier to skate, and a few skinned knees are not a disaster.
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Shaun Hensley
The American Experiment has failed
01:47 PM on 03/15/2011
Getting ahead in this world is about connections. Those connections are made in school.
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lrobb
Gold standard = four paws and a tail
02:09 PM on 03/15/2011
Really? I went to school with Mike Douglas and was an undergraduate drama major. Didn't do me one bit of good.

Your career is made by connections you make individually with people in your chosen profession or avocation. Unless you are planning to be a major corporate lawyer, banker, doctor or multi-national corporate CEO, not so much on the "where did you graduate" end.

By and large, people in those professions don't rate themselves high on the happy scale.

My children have highly successful careers and delightful personal lives without ever having resorted to contacts made in college. As a matter of fact, although my son still stays in contact with one high school buddy, neither of them have heard or seen any of their schoolmates--either high school or college--since graduation.
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kapalabhati
Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu
kellygreen
"Ideology is the Science of Idiots" John Adams
05:08 PM on 03/15/2011
Why do your children have to get into the best or most exclusive educationa­l institutio­n?
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Because we live in a culture that teaches us to connect self-worth with net-worth...and that our happiness is found in high social status and acquriing as many pleasurable activities as possible.
It's a toxic holdover from the Calvinist ethic that we prove our worthiness in God's eyes, by how successful we are in the world.

When the truth of the matter is that once our basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, and safety are met.....Happiness is an inside job.

Its more about who you are on the inside, than about what you have or what you do on the outside.

That is why we are becoming so sick and so confused as a society....and addictively consuming the planets resources.

Too much of what it is that you don't really need is never, never, never enough.
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Shaun Hensley
The American Experiment has failed
02:09 PM on 03/16/2011
You gloss over the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter as if that's a given. But with the decline of the American worker, it's not.
12:06 PM on 03/15/2011
I think ordinary childhoods went out the window with the advent of ninja parenting.
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VA Jill
I'm not perfect and neither are you
11:37 AM on 03/15/2011
Why can't you just balance kids' schedules? When mine were growing up we had a rule....only 3 outside activities, one of which had to be related to church (that was us, but you could as well substitute a service activity if you're a non-churchgoer). Two of mine played sports, but it was their choice. My son chose Boys and Girls Club as his third activity. My daughter preferred to leave that option open most of the time. It worked well and gave them plenty of "down time."
kellygreen
"Ideology is the Science of Idiots" John Adams
05:10 PM on 03/15/2011
Many parents are so fearful that their kids will either be "left behind" or that they will grow up feeling "deprived" in some fashion, that they are unwilling to set such healthy limits.

When the sad irony is that in many ways compulsive activity is more damaging than insufficient activity.
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Circe
11:20 AM on 03/15/2011
So tired of parents acting as though their 12-year-olds are destined to become star athletes. Just let them enjoy playing the game, whatever game.
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spoonbill1963
10:57 AM on 03/15/2011
Ordinary would be great but there are so many parents "experimenting" with new ways to raise their kids that the end result will be anything but ordinary. One of these new ways is to raise your kids "gender neutral."
I suspect this will result in some real nutjobs in a few years.
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justkeepswimming
01:53 PM on 03/15/2011
Just out of curiosity, what would raising kids "gender specific" look like?
02:32 PM on 03/15/2011
My grade 1 reader, which I suspect was the same as Spoonbill's there, as I was born in 1965, told me what I could expect: Dick goes to see the rocket launch with Father. Jane stays home and bakes a cake with Mother. My own example would be: Sandy stays home and does the dishes. Mikey goes sledding/on a light aircraft ride/hiking in the woods.

I am raising my female children to do what they want to do - whether it's glopping on play makeup and cuddling dolls or slaughtering video zombies and collecting dead bugs in baby food jars. My girls are learning their potentials as human beings, not as stereotyped fantasies from the 1950s that will end up on valium, married to neanderthals like Spoonbill1963. You want a cake with that, Spoon? Bake it yourself. I've got a rocket launch to watch.
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marianproletarian
03:52 PM on 03/15/2011
You mean they let girls play with hot wheels and boys play with easy bake ovens? The horror!