If you have been to any of my parent meetings or been to any of our youth group for parents you have most likely heard me mention Chap Clark’s book Hurt or Hurt 2.0. In his book Clark brings forth the idea that we as parents and adults in children and adolescence life have created a system that is leaving kids feeling isolated and abandoned, he calls this Systematic Abandonment. Kids sense that they are systematically being abandoned by their parents who are well meaning but choose to send them to “experts” who are paid or volunteer to teach them science, math, water polo, baseball, music, faith etc. The problem is that the one thing that children desire the most is their parents attention. Here is quote from Clark’s book Hurt 2.0.
“We have evolved to the point where we believe driving is support, being active is love, and providing any and every opportunity is selfless nurture. We are a culture that has forgotten how to be together. We lost the ability to spend unstructured downtime. Rather than being with children in creative activities at home or setting them free to enjoy semisupervised activities such as “play” we as a culture have looked to outside organizations and structured agendas to fill their time and dictate their lives. The problem is not simply organized activities and sports. It is the cumulative effect that children experience as they grow up in today’s social structure. Sports, music, dance, drama, Scouts, and even faith-related programs are all guilty of ignoring the developmental needs of each individual young person in favor of the organization’s goals. Add to this the increasing amount of homework being assigned to student’s at a younger and younger ages. The systemic pressure on American children is immense. Too many of us actually enjoy athletic, cultural or artistic babysitting service being provided by those organizations. Even with the best of intentions, the way we raise, train, and even parent our children today exhibits our attitudes and behaviors that are simply subtle forms of parental abandonment.”
Ouch, as a parent of two young boys, I certainly feel the pressures of society to make sure my kids are a part of all these activities, so they can have the best “experience”. Am I simply setting my boys up for failure, for a future where they feel abandoned?
As a youth pastor am I simply part of the problem? I am I one of those subcontractors for an organization that is throwing wood on this societal fire?
I know that your children are very busy. I hear them talk about all the things they are involved and all the homework they have to do. I see the tired lifeless look they often have in their eyes.
I think it is time we seriously evaluate why our kids are involved in the activities they are in, we take time to think about how we as parents can better take the reigns of our kids lives and make sure our kids don’t have a lasting sense of abandonment.
Now I am off to correct my 7 year old’s homework.
Thank-you for this post, I really needed to hear this today. I have been struggling with how much is to much for Henry and Rowan. I was siting on the side lines of their Karate class one night and watching them wait for their turn to have help from the instructor. They were yawning and totally board. I thought why are we here. Why do we rush through dinner leaving no time to talk about our day to come here to then rush home and get raedy for bed. One thing I have realized is that they truly do want to spend time with us and us with them. Trying to find activities that we can be involved in together has been my goal now. I don’t feel you are part of the problem, in fact quite the opposite. Church provides the opportunity to have that quality time with your kids if you want it. With the love and support from other adults who truly care about your kids like family. It takes a village.