Idle Time Really Is The Devil’s Workshop
“So what are your children doing this summer?” I asked. The father, gave me a blank look and the said, “I don’t know you’d have to ask them.” It never occurred to him that he should be involved in planning his children’s summer. So what will most likely happen? The children will be left to their own devices. And this will create the potential for the perfect storm.
Summer is a time of fun, relaxation, travel, friends and basically just doing very little, but for a parent it can also be used as time for growth and learning. Remember parenting is premeditated.
When I make such statements parents usually respond defensively. Their children have been in school all year long taking tests over and over again and they need a break. I agree. But they don’t need unstructured time all day every day of vacation either. There are many summer programs out there to sign up a child. There is the public library, the Boys & Girls Club, churches, local recreation center, etc. The issue isn’t what is available, but rather was enough effort put into looking for options.
My experience has shown me that children from structured, proactive households not only fair better in school but in life. Keeping your child busy for the summer, in the end, amounts to more than just staying out of trouble. Truth be known the majority of the time trouble comes to those who flirt with it. However, when children are left to their devices in time they will be influenced, they will become exposed to negative behaviors, and almost inevitably they will engage in some sort of negative activity. All while unsupervised.
Keeping your children busy for the summer offers the parent’s valuable teaching moments. For instance, it begins to educate your child in a fact of life, which is to always be involved in something productive because the world revolves around productive people. Your children will have chance to meet other children they normally wouldn’t associate with. It will give them a chance to associate with others adults in authority. It will expose them to new points of view. For those children who go away for a camp they get a chance to witness how the world works. They will meet successful people and begin developing a sense of independence but in a positive environment.
Many of the teens I have worked with have never been exposed to higher learning, camps, and summer programs and therefore don’t know the fundamentals of getting along with people they don’t normally associate with or of figuring out how to fit in. They are left feeling awkward and inadequate and therefore shy away from such people and events.
If no such program is available create your own for your child. Be creative and consistent, but teach your values or be prepared to have your children learn their values from the streets. It shouldn’t take the school district to require your child to read this summer this should be every parent’s priority. Use the summer months to educate your children beyond what you were able to experience. It is possible to give your children these experiences. As my mother used tell us, “If we ask enough questions we can get anywhere.”