Doing Family Right

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Parenting: Part 1—Redefining Boredom

Surprising Tools for Raising Successful Children by David McVety

I can’t count the number of times that my wife, Melissa, and I have been so caught up in our hectic lives that we have needed to take a step back and ask each other whether what we have involved ourselves and our children in is actually benefitting our family or simply overwhelming us.

So many of us live lives worried about what our kids might “miss out” on and sign them up for everything – VBS, Youth groups, sports teams, music lessons and more. We, as parents, quickly turn into “taxi drivers” and chauffeurs without time to breathe or think until our kids are in bed. The problem with this is that by keeping a pace of life that is that busy, we risk stealing what’s most important for our children from them.

Our children are often missing out on two of the things that they need most:

  1. Boredom

When I was a child, I remember feeling bored and wondering if there was something wrong if I felt this way, but now I actually miss and envy those times when things are slow enough for me to rest my mind and have nothing to do or think about. It leaves space for me to get to know myself and to allow God to speak to me. God’s presence is so often found in the silence, and we don’t allow ourselves enough of that.

We need to be teaching and modeling this to our kids so that they appreciate the quiet and the slow moments of life. I have actually started telling my kids ,to both model and implement times throughout the day where we “unplug” from any device, to embrace “boredom” to foster creative development as well as the much needed space to process the day and deal with things that need to be addressed rather than be distracted. Kids do not need to be constantly stimulated, instead they need space to freely play, spend time in relationship, and contemplate life…something that our culture craves and so we need to cultivate and protect it!

Without that space, our children find themselves in constant states of anxiety and tension. We need to teach them how to decompress. Lets teach them to embrace their boredom as a chance to decompress, quiet the soul and take stock of who they are and who they are in Christ

  1. Relationship

Children are born with an inner yearning for proximity. They need a relationship with their parents or primary caregivers, and with each person in their family. So often when older children make particular choices in life that the parents are concerned with they often say, “but I didn’t raise them to be like that.” Unfortunately, as good as the intentions of these parents’ have been, the reality is that parents may not be raising their children at all. Raising children requires time, both quality, AND quantity. As much as we think or hope that “time” with our kids, even if we are just watching them do an activity or driving them from one place to the next, is good, it is very easy to neglect the relationship in favour of activities and even leave our children feeling like they need to perform in order to gain our attention.

This can be difficult for single parents or parents who have to work a lot, who often need programs to help balance the load. Which is why it is important to “collect” your children when they come home. Being sure to be intentional to debrief their day, talk about random things, laugh, play, and share heart matters. Do the best you can with the time you have! Choosing to give your children the attention and time you do have, rather than taking them to an additional activity, will benefit them in incredible ways.

Spending time with our kids in ways that do not include other people or structured/programmed activities allows them to know that we care about WHO they are, not just WHAT they do. It leaves space and silence enough for us to be in each other’s presence and appreciate character traits and personality types and even opinions and interests. Our children need to be able to “rest in our presence” much like we are to rest in the presence of our Good Shepherd (Psalm 23). Having fun with them and playing with them, is incredibly important to their development and their relationship with us. It is worth the time and effort! Lets be intentional with the time we do have with our kids.

As the new school year begins and programs start, take the time to pre-emptively decide to avoid overwhelming both your life and your children’s lives with too much. Where you can, leave space for play, connection, relationship and opportunity for awareness of God’s presence. Doing so will help your child blossom to their full potential.

Click HERE for Part 2—Redefining Boredom

© David McVety – September 2016


David McVety is the Assistant Director of Doing Family Right.

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