I have no doubt that parents and many of the coaches and directors want only what's best for our children. In many ways, all of us feel like victims of a system that keeps pushing them harder and harder. We're afraid and wonder how we can make a difference.
- Say no because you truly understand the negative effects of busyness on your children and family. A few weeks ago I received a free book from Plough Publishing called Their Name is Today by Johann Christoph Arnold. I highly recommend it as a way to gain further incite into what is happen. In it, there is the story of a lawyer named Dale who quit his job at his law firm to spend more time with his children. He went from making a large annual salary to limiting his work to twenty hours a week as a lawyer and volunteering another twenty serving AIDS patients and people dying of cancer. A friend was concerned and told Dale he was making a mistake. "It's not like you can do whatever you want...You have five children. You have a duty to give them the best life possible and send them to the best universities they can get into. You are shirking your duty." (p. 72) Dale responded by telling him how he had reverted back into working to much again after he had cut back. And his daughter told him this, "Dad, when you were gone all the time, it didn't matter. But now I've gotten used to you being here, and I can't take it. I want you to quit being a lawyer." (p. 73) Dale tried to convince his daughter differently, showing her the economic consequences of what they would lose. But in the end, his daughters wanted him. I encourage you to read the book yourself to truly understand the effects of not only their busyness, but our busyness has on our children.
- Say no because you know your limits. Indiana child labor laws prohibit 14 and 15 year olds from working more than 3 hours per day and 18 hours per week on school days. They can also cannot work past 7 pm the night before school and past 9 pm on other days. It seems reasonable that any sport or extracurricular should be limited to this time, perhaps with the exception of going until 9 for a game. I believe we need a movement that extends child labor restriction that are in place for 14 and 15 year olds to all middle school and high school extracurricular activities. Children and parents can then take on the responsibility to limit the total time of all extracurriculars, practice, lessons and jobs to this amount of time. With children spending at least 40 hours per week on school and homework, limiting the total time to 68 hours seems reasonable. You may decide on different limits for your family. At least name what they are and make sure you stay within them.
- Say no because no one else can do this for your son or daughter. You are the steward of your child's life. No one else can make this decision for you. If you make yourself the victim of a coach or director's scheduling, you are not fulfilling the role that God has given you. The problems that most young adults face from their childhood is the absence of their parents in their lives, whether from their own busyness as children or their parents' busyness.
- Say no because you love your children. You are not placed on this earth to make sure your son or daughter achieves the American dream. The way of Jesus is so much bigger and better than that. Make it your primary task to help them live into that.
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