Can parents and schools go overboard when it comes to driving teens toward high achievement? According to some, our achievement-oriented society can have some major down sides, when it comes to our kids. While this issue certainly starts early on, it really comes to a head during the teen years.
Too Much Homework
A mom herself, Vicki Abeles is so impassioned about this topic that she directed a documentary aimed at fuelling a grassroots rebellion against what she calls the “silent epidemic” of a misguided push toward achievement. The documentary, Race to Nowhere, is getting the attention of the educational community, but in the mean time, students are continuing to fall prey to a system that encourages stress-related illnesses, burnout, and depression.
Maybe someday, Abeles will be successful in encouraging PTAs to pressure schools to adopt block scheduling and re-establish study halls, in order to give kids more time to get their homework done at school; until then, parents can take some steps to protect their own teens against the current system. According to many teachers, most parents actually add to the pressure kids already feel at school.
Too Many Activities
Abeles isn’t alone in seeing this problem with over-stressed kids. Dr. Kevin Leman, author of It’s Your Kid, Not a Gerbil: Creating a Happier & Less Stressed Home, says it’s high time parents stop “chauffeuring [their] children from one endless activity to another” and putting their “time and energies where they really count: in establishing strong character and a love for home and family that will serve your kids well for a lifetime.”
According to one Amazon review of Lehman’s book, one major component encouraged in it is that “Family time is more important to a child than all sorts of lessons, and most kids would rather have their parents love them for who they are and not just for what they do.”
Finding Time for Family
Without dropping some aspects of your current rat race, you’ll be unlikely to be able to add in quality family time. After you make some cuts, though, you can start small by adding 1 or 2 family meals each week. Benefits of eating together as a family vary and include these fabulous results:
- healthier foods for everyone and lower chances of childhood obesity
- lessened chances of cigarettes, alcohol, and drug use
- Decreased tension and stress within the home
- Higher grades at school
- Increased communication among family members
In order for your family time around the table to achieve the goals in mind, you’ll have to unplug and really focus on the people most important in your life—your family that’s sitting around the table. If you need ideas for conversation starters or TV-free family time, there are many resources out there.
While even baby steps are steps in the right direction, maybe at some point you could even meet the challenge to unplug the TV for a whole month!
Photo credits: Top © Golden Pixels LLC / Fotolia. Middle © Monkey Business / Fotolia. Bottom © Andy Dean Photography / Fotolia.