“My kids want to do it all!” “My kids love it!” “The kids aren’t happy unless we have a full calendar.” I don’t even know how to respond when ladies say these types of things to me. I wouldn’t know where to start!
In regard to the Busy Dilemma, there is one aspect I didn’t address. The kids. This is huge and is multifaceted. Some use kids as a justification because all the activities are for the benefit of the child. We have just got to give the next generation the best. How else will they be able to survive in our competitive society?
Some use kids as the excuse. They run themselves ragged because it is what the child wants. OK? So who is the boss? Where is the responsibility of the adult in this situation? Why are they blaming their children for getting overwhelmed by all the obligations? I mean, it isn’t as though the child is running around signing up for soccer, violin, piano, drama, Sunday School and softball. The children aren’t writing the checks or arranging transportation. Even if the child is truly given the authority to dictate the calendar, the parent is allowing for it and is ultimately responsible—not just for the calendar but also for abdicating authority.
And since when is a parent measured by how well he or she gives in to the child’s every desire? Since when is it a parent’s job to keep children happy above all else? When do we teach our children temperance? When do we teach them delayed gratification? Does anyone remember the word moderation? What about the very important life skills involving time and money management, or appropriating ourselves and our goods in accordance with our priorities?
Maybe that is exactly what is happening. Maybe the priority is to be Busy. If so, then the message is coming through to the next generation loud and clear. Last night my daughter asked about something that was on our calendar. I told her that it would not be happening after all because the people we invited no longer were able to make it. She came over and sat very close to me. She said, ‘I think we are losing friends because they are all so busy. It makes me sad because we have such very nice friends. I really miss them.’ Again, I don’t even know what to say…
Should I sign her up for soccer and give up 3 days of the week running her to games so she can hopefully see some of those friends who are too busy to come for dinner or Bible Study? Maybe we should join the VBS circuit, too. I can name more friends who are on it than not.
I wonder…. What else is being taught to our children as they run from class to game to practice to show. Can they ever be quiet with the Lord? Can they ever wait on His timing? Can they be comfortable with stillness, with themselves? Will they be inclined to sacrifice? These skills and enjoyments must be practiced and modeled to be acquired and appreciated. These skills are what move baby Christians to carnivorous believers. How can one hear a Still Small Voice amid the constant bustle? How can one bear to make a decision that would be detrimental to one’s own desires if wonderful Mom never did? And if we can’t let go the things of this world, how will we ever hold the things of the next?
I wonder still at the vicious cycle that is produced in this lifestyle.
I fear that as these loving moms and dads strive to give every good thing to their children, they are robbing them of the best thing: dependence on the Lord. As their tangible lives fill, their spiritual lives are depleted. As moms live vicariously, serving each need and whim, children will grow to believe that they have a right to feeling fulfilled. They will also stuff their own children to overflowing, gorging on the material, never understanding just WHY Johnny isn’t happy unless they are on the go.
I think parents today know better than to live a life that is self-serving. Which is another reason why the kids are such a convenient excuse. Parents do what they want, even if they claim it is the child who wants three destinations each day. The small degree of separation from serving self to serving child soothes the conscience. The mind-numbing running, the false sense of accomplishment that comes from crossing another appointment off the list and the convenience of being unable to sit and really talk with someone are all salves for the nagging feeling that they were meant for more.
God has called us all for something greater, something that will build the eternal Kingdom. But to answer that call, we must surrender control. We must obey and be unsure of just about everything but His goodness. That is scary. We know it is wrong to say no. So instead we say, ‘not now.’ We say, ‘how about this instead?’ We say, ‘I’m too busy.’