This letter is for you.
Once upon a time, before I had children, I felt like the world would be my kid’s oyster.
So much opportunity was in my sights. I would drive by the dance studios and think, “when I have a girl…” I would drive by the football fields and say, “when I have a boy…” I saw all these things in which my kids could participate: select sports, invaluable civic opportunities, advanced high school degree plans, music lessons and the list of extracurriculars went on and on.
Fast forward 14 years and 6 kids and my view from the rear view mirror looks vastly different.
I forgot to factor in the pressure. The pressure of success, as defined by society. You see, we’re all so busy looking for the next best thing to put on our kid’s college application that we’ve forgotten to do one important thing.
Talk to our kid.
Hey sweet child of mine, what is it you like to do? What is it that brings you joy? What path do you want your life to take? How will it all glorify God?
And, AND, how does it fit into our family culture and our family dynamic?
Just last week, one of our children’s middle school teachers said this: “I don’t care if your kids fail every subject. If they don’t develop a true and abiding relationship with God, I will have failed them.” Now, I’m not so unrealistic as to say, believe in God and you’ll get in to the college of your dreams! All without studying! Sidenote here, my kids attend a private, Catholic school and that teacher was a nun.
But, that Sister’s point about our priorities really struck a chord with me. All around us I see families sacrificing family time, precious family time, to weekends on the road traveling all sorts of hours for all sorts of extracurriculars. Some of them are invaluable. But others? They’re just a check mark on the to-do list or a chink in the status belt. I see families push, push, pushing their kids to take every hard class on the high school degree plan because the Ivy League alternative could be a state school, a community college or none of the above. It makes them shudder. But should it?
Somewhere along the way, not only did we forget to talk to our kids about their hopes, dreams and ideas, but we forgot to ask God to chime in, too. We lost our focus. And, if we’re not careful, our souls are next.
I will tell you that this overcommitment thing is a slow fade. Even the best intentioned parents (hand raised here) get in too deep with their kids and look around and say, “how the heck did I get here?” One activity at a time, that’s how. I think we may just be more aware of it, because when each one of our kids adds an activity, that’s six new things. Also, I’m a slow learner. Bottom line? Don’t be afraid to really weigh each new thing that comes along. Ask yourself the question of how it’s getting you and your child closer or further away from God, pray about it and then make a decision, tuning out the distractions.
We have to start saying not just yes, but hell yes, to the things in which we believe. When we find our passion, we find our vocation. And that’s what we call a game changer, a life changer.
My challenge to you is this: pursue the good and noble things in life, recognizing that your life plan (and your kids’) will look different than those around you. Don’t give in to the pressure. It’s a slippery slope. And, don’t be afraid to make the hard choices. The hard ones are usually the right ones.
Can I get a hell yes?