Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer vacation

Now that the summer vacation is upon us, the parenting columns and magazines everywhere are full of advice on "getting through it", with titles such as "The Full Guide to Having a Kid in Your House, Something You Forgot How to Deal With During the School Year."

One article stated that, "while during most the year, we transfer the main responsibility of training our children to the school, during the summer vacation the ball is suddenly back in our field." Not a slightest hint was expressed regarding that maybe, just maybe, something is wrong with this picture. 

Soon, parents will be moaning how they "wish it was over already"; others are taking active campaigns for the shortening of the school holidays. After all, they claim, the holidays are tough on working parents – kindergartens and schools are suddenly on vacation, while those who aren't school workers must continue with their usual work schedule. Sure, there are summer camps, but they are usually only active during the day and only for a couple of weeks, which means that over a month remains to be filled. Perhaps a week or two of family vacation is reasonable; then parents are starting to become desperate, looking for alternatives such as grandparents, aunties, another summer camp, summer schools (which are usually very expensive), etc.

A neighbor of mine proudly told of her fantastic plan for the summer – she isn't going to send her younger children (ages 4-8) anywhere, but instead, she will leave them under the supervision of the older children while she's at work. For this, her older children will each get a hefty sum of money at the end of the summer which will still be "much less than she would have paid for a summer camp." Now, I don't want to offend anyone. Perhaps there is something I just don't understand, having grown up as an only child. But why should siblings have to be paid in order to spend time with each other?
(Sidenote: we happen to be talking about a very poor family in real financial trouble, I do think in their case the teenagers just ought to step up to the plate and help without expecting a reward in money.)

Another argument is that the summer vacation contributes to laziness. Articles and online discussions are heaping concern over the hearts of parents, talking about how destructive unsupervised leisure time can be, about teen crime, drinking, etc. I think, however, that this so-called laziness might have something to do with the kids' simply having their brains totally sponged out at school, where they are told what to do and not to do, when to talk and when to be silent, what to think and what not to think, for many hours every day while they sit through boring lessons. After school they have homework, private lessons, and various extracurricular activities. Many working parents are afraid, often rightly so, of leaving their children unsupervised, thus the encouragement to fill up their time with various activities; however, this way something very important is lost – the simply being and daydreaming, which leads to thought and creativity.

When I was a child, I was always under the supervision of my grandma, who lived with us. I'm not saying such a situation is ideal – it wouldn't work for many, perhaps most families, and of course children are better off raised by their parents. But the point is, I wasn't shipped off to a different activity every day. During the summers, from early childhood, I would often curl up for hours, make up stories and write them down – a favorite pastime I carried with me throughout the years, which now enriches my life and the life of my family. I made up imaginary countries and worlds and shared them with friends (some of whom are probably reading this right now and smiling while they remember!!). I read every book in the library. I explored the neighborhood. I climbed trees. The "doing nothing" was actually very important, though I didn't realize it then but just enjoyed the process, and I find it sad to see this being taken away from children. Constantly occupying every moment of their time leads them to being used to passive entertainment!

I'm just at the beginning of my parenting journey, and surely, I'm far, far, far from being perfect; however, I have a different vision for my family and my children. I want my children to be comfortable both with doing a lot and doing nothing; I want them to love both activity and quiet time; I would dearly love them to have the flexibility of mind which means they will never be bored. I'm not sure how to achieve this yet, but it's pretty obvious to me that the school system does not have the answer either.   

38 comments:

Amelia B. said...

I agree with most of what you've said- we've reached a sad point when parents only "survive" their children instead of enjoying them. Wouldn't it be great if we were flooded with articles on "how to joyfully live with your children all about- all the time!" instead of such negative pieces?

Offering a possible explanation for paying older siblings to watch younger ones- obviously this differs by family (due to family structure, beliefs, and economic resources), but if you're talking about children old enough to be employed gainfully elsewhere, say a 16-year-old girl, if financially possible I think it's a great thing for the parents to "pay" her for helping them out. Obviously if the parents can't "afford" to then she should just help out because "we're a family and that's how things are", but in times of plenty this seems like a great way to help teens start saving up for a car or college or new sporting equipment.

Morag said...

Older children don't want to spend time with their younger siblings simply because they have caught their parents' and society's attitude that spending time with young children is not enjoyable. Why does the world believe that young children have to be entertained? Or to be continuously bludgeoned with rote learning: dates, facts figures, multiplication tables. Children need supervision, yes but what they really need is the opportunity and the space to learn by creating.
Although the festivities are mostly geared to the Christian year "The Children's Year" http://www.amazon.com/Childrens-Year-Seasonal-Festivals-Hawthorn/dp/1903458595/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277325096&sr=8-1 , and "All Year Round" http://www.amazon.com/All-Year-Round-Lifeways-Druitt/dp/1869890477/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277325096&sr=8-2 have excellent craft and activity ideas using simple materials and things found in nature to occupy little hands and stimulate imaginative creativity. Most if not all of the ideas could be adapted to the Jewish festival year.
"Earthways" is another good crafting book based on using natural materials. http://www.amazon.com/Earthways-Simple-Environmental-Activities-Children/dp/087659156X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277325570&sr=1-1
At the older level MaryAnn Kohl's books are terrific. http://www.amazon.com/MaryAnn-F.-Kohl/e/B001KCGEZW/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1277325786&sr=1-1

Gothelittle Rose said...

If you homeschool, that'll do a lot to help them fill their time properly. Kids naturally find creative and interesting things to do. My son spent most of the day with a book and several pieces of paper, learning origami.

It's the regimented school system that saps their energy and the modern culture that teaches them that "play" can't involve learning and they'd better get in all the "fun" they can as a break from being "responsible".

A big part of it is the way that going away to school compartmentalizes your child's life into Learning Time, Working Time, and Fun Time. The "Fun Time" has to be concentrated, so as to get it all in before it's time to Work or Learn again.

Oh yes, the old What Does A Parent Do With Her Child All Day problem also goes away when you homeschool, because when you spend day after day in the presence of your child, the two of you know how to deal with each other. Women who keep their children in daycare already have trouble taking care of them for weeks on end when the children are as young as Shira.

Joanna said...

agreed!

Lena Michalev said...

Great post! I definitely remember those days (with imaginary worlds), in fact, I think I even have some of your letters still where you write about it.
When I was a child, I also used to draw, read, make up stories, play dolls, play outside with friends, etc My only extracurricular activity was swimming and I LOVED it. I definitely agree that kids need their own time to develop creativity and grow, instead of being packed with organized activities 24/7.

organicmommy said...

Very well said. I often find it incredibly sad when I hear parents griping about the fact that their children are off school for the day, week or the summer. I feel that I did not have my children to let them be raised by others. I am fortunate in that I am able to stay home with my kids and give them more time than some. However I can honestly say that I was said to learn that my daughter would only have 10 weeks off from school this year before going from preschool to kindergarten. I wish they let summer be summer and allow the children to grow and blossom more in their natural environment!

Rose said...

Children and teenagers do need unstructured rime to develop their creativity and imagination. It is sad when parents think they must "get through" school holidays instead of enjoying them -- 18 precious summers go by so quickly.

THE Princess Bombshell* said...

My children are not in school yet, I have four under 4. We're homeschooling anyways. But anyways, for two weeks my 4 and 3 year old are in a church music day camp. (My children's big "summer thing" to do!) I stay at the facility in the back and watch them practice and learn. I'm like one of two parents who sticks around the entire time. I can't believe how many parents use it as a drop off! It's so sad! I don't want to miss a minute of their darling growth. I mean they're still so little! WHY would I want to do anything else?!

Lena Michalev said...

Anna, you asked "But why should siblings have to be paid in order to spend time with each other?"

I'll try to explain... There is a big difference between spending time with someone and having to watch someone. When a child is left in charge of his siblings, he is not just spending time with them, but he is left with the responsibility of making sure all his siblings are safe, fed, etc resolve conflicts, and technically 'raise' them while the parents are away. If he wants time to himself to curl up with a good book and relax - he won't necessarily be able to, because there are younger children to take care of. He doesn't have time for himself, and has to put their needs first (especially if they're as little as age 4). It comes natural to a mother (the nurturing, caring, unconditional love, etc), but it's not something that you would want to put on a child's shoulders on a prolonged period of time (like the whole summer). The kid may feel that he is missing out on his childhood by having to "raise" his siblings while the parents are busy working. I suppose that's why some parents offer an incentive such as monetary compensation...

Terrie said...

"Perhaps there is something I just don't understand, having grown up as an only child. But why should siblings have to be paid in order to spend time with each other?"

Hi Anna,

There is a big difference between spending time together and being responsible for someone else's care. As a big sister, I might have spent time with my little brother, and then gone to my room to read a book, or gone out with a friend, etc. If I were babysitting, I'd have to keep an eye on him the whole time. Since the older kids may not be able to drive, they're pretty much stuck in the house (the last place most teenagers want to be!) So, a few hours here and there is normal, but I'd certainly have expected to be paid to do my parents' job for them day in and day out for the entire summer!

Terrie

Elle Bee said...

"But why should siblings have to be paid in order to spend time with each other?"

Well, because they are, essentially, babysitting. These children are taking on the unsupervised care of their siblings. They are serving as "parents" to children to whom they did not give birth. I am all for siblings helping out with their brothers and sisters under mom and dad's supervision...but when an older sibling is left alone with sole parenting responsibility over a younger sibling for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, for three months, it is a heavy responsibility and burden, and one well deserving of monetary compensation (in my experience).

I cared for my much-younger sisters for two summers, and it was definitely a constraint on what I was able to do. For instance, I was not able to work because I was always watching them. Because I lost a potential income stream, my parents compensated me for my childcare so that I would later have money for car maintenance, gasoline to get to school, car insurance, and a new-to-me used musical instrument (we live in a rural area and the car expenses were necessities; the instrument was not, but it added to my education for sure). These were things my parents were not willing/able to pay for directly, but by not putting my sisters in daycare for the summer, they were able to divert the money to me so that their needs and mine were satisfied.

It's not a question of spending time with one another; it's a question of cooking, changing, washing, vacuuming, and otherwise cleaning up after multiple young children all day long for 50 hours per week without a mother's supervision. If the financial arrangement works for the parents and the children, I really don't know what the problem is.

Nikki said...

Hi,

I enjoy your blog.

I have been mothering for nearly two-decades and have several children ranging in age from eighteen to in-utero. I share many of your thoughts on children not having time to just "hangout".

I have written an article on this issue that you may find interesting, since it comes from a Momma with lots of experience (you mentioned that you were new at mothering) as well as a homeschool group leader (things I've seen over the past several years in homeschooling families as well as other families). Here's the link http://fascinatingwomanhoodak.wordpress.com/2010/05/10/the-importance-of-hangout-time-for-children/ .

Feel free not to post this comment if you'd rather commentors not link here or if you'd just like to read the article yourself.

Rightthinker-Andrea said...

Wow, I find that really disturbing!

I'm extremely concerned about our culture (US) of needing to be busy...constantly...entertained! While I grew up attending public school, our parents were highly involved. When school was out for summer and other breaks, we were told in the morning, after breakfast, to GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY.

Honestly, that's where we remained, aside from lunch and dinner, until we were called in for dinner. Being creative, playing baseball with whatever kids we could round up, riding bikes, roller skating, laying in the grass, etc.

Now, children must be occupied with organized activity..partially because parents don't even know how to handle their own children, since they are so busy themselves, and partly to relieve guilt over their being busy on their own ventures.

I don't need to be taught how to deal with "my child home during summer", because our 5+ children are home with me year round'. Our children in Summer are not occupied by constant mini-van jaunts here and there for their pleasure. Aside from church, a family outing, or a pre-arranged and fairly rare orchestrated get-together, we are home. I am not here, on this Earth with children, to be a cruise director!

They do their chores in the morning, enjoy a bit of a slower start to their day than during the school year, and they then go OUT TO PLAY! They play in our yard-being creative, and the older children bike to the river, to hike mountains with friends, etc.

Despite not having much of a respite of "self time", I'm thankful that my focus has to be on home and children. We don't make allowance for too much for "me"...It's God and then family in this place..not very socially popular, but highly rewarding and nurturing.

Blessings!

Mrs. Anna T said...

I'll just make a clarification I probably ought to have made in the first place (I edited the post now): the family where the older children watch the young is quite poor. They have NO money to spare, and it would be a great help if the teenagers simply agreed to watch their younger siblings for no reward but knowing that they are doing something for the whole family. I believe the family is a unit, and everyone ought to be doing what needs to be done. If parents have money to spare that's another thing.

Kat said...

"I think, however, that this so-called laziness might have something to do with the kids' simply having their brains totally sponged out at school, where they are told what to do and not to do, when to talk and when to be silent, what to think and what not to think, for many hours every day while they sit through boring lessons."

To be honest, I am a teacher and feel this way in the summer! :)

Analytical Adam said...

This problem is especially true among boys as many parts of society do not want to let boys think or have time to do things on their own they enjoy and develop natural talents they have and enjoy. Many inventions were made by men that were allowed to use their talents.

Although I will also say that I do think it isn't so much having activities. It is more that the activites are super structered and you are told what to do and you are not really allowed to ask any questions. That is not a good thing

I'm also sorry to hear that among your Grandparents as well you didn't have any male influence.

In many families this whole anti male thing started when the family was in the religious world if you trace it back.

Bethany Hudson said...

Anna - I agree with you for the most part, but (as one only child to another) here is my explanation for why an older sibling ought to be paid for long-term or frequent sitting of younger siblings. For day-to-day things or short sitting, I wouldn't pay an older sibling, but when they are expected to shape their social lives and work schedule around something that is their parents' repsonsibility, not one of their ordinary chores, then I feel they should be reimbursed as any babysitter would be. For example, if an older sibling was asked to babysit on New Year's Eve so her parents could attend a party. She would have to give up her own plans in order to do this. In addition, while there should always be duties which are done simply because one is part of a household, when a child goes above and beyond, I believe they should be compensated (not necessarily monetarily, but that is good). It promotes good work ethic and teaches a child about how the real world works. After all, who would take a job outside the home for no pay? It can also provide opportunity to teach them how to be responsible with finances within the safety of the family unit. If a child is never compensated for their work, then what you have is socialism within the family. This may appeal to some, but personally, I am not a fan of this economic model. Anyway, those are my thoughts.

Analytical Adam said...

Although in the real world there is no vacation. I don't get a vacation in the summer and in fact at the moment I am looking for another job as the job I am at they cut to 15 hours.

And in any situation you can be creative if the environment allows it.

In fact stories would be more realistic if you are around people more both male and female and different people that have different life experiences. So too much being alone may lead to not channeling your skills in a realistic way and G-d created us to be social people as he put is in a world with others. This false overly focus on self which is what the false ideologies in the Jewish world today is NOT what Judaism is about. Yes the other extreme of not taking care of yourself is not appropriate either but the sad reality is most of the religious is too focused on their own smal clique and if they were allowed to be in an open environment with others while allowing the person to be creative they would overall use their talents in a more productive way then just developing it in mostly isolation.

Rightthinker-Andrea said...

We have a situation where our oldest is 13 and very responsible, and the youngest is just-turned-one, with a baby on the way.

Our older children "watch" the youngest when I need them to. A quick bathroom break, or when we are all outside, and I go in to get drinks for everyone. I have left the children in the car with our oldest, and I have left the youngest home napping, while I run for something needed at home.

I can trust this, however, I don't abuse it. It is our choice to have a large family..yet, amazingly, our 13 year old (a boy) is so in love with his "baby", that it's often what he wants to do. We don't pay him, as when we do ask, it's very occasional-and therefore an expected part of family! If we did a scheduled "babysitting" event, he most certainly would be compensated in whatever way we could afford.

All of our kids play together, despite age gaps...I also respect the fact that the older children do need some time alone and with peers, as well. The most important factor in being able to play and help out with younger children, is actually living in family, and it's really reinforced via homeschool, the family unit and dinner table, and not constantly shuttling off children left and right to their own, separated and age defined activities.

Blue said...

I'll just make a clarification I probably ought to have made in the first place (I edited the post now): the family where the older children watch the young is quite poor. They have NO money to spare, and it would be a great help if the teenagers simply agreed to watch their younger siblings for no reward but knowing that they are doing something for the whole family. I believe the family is a unit, and everyone ought to be doing what needs to be done. If parents have money to spare that's another thing.
...
Anna, you didn't say how old the older children are, but perhaps they are at ages where they need their own spending money, or funds to purchase their own clothing or incidentals. By paying them for childcare, their parents both address their own childcare needs (they would have paid for it anyway), and enable their older children to earn spending money.

Had my parents required me as a teen to babysit my younger siblings full-time for no compensation, I would have been in a pickle, because at that age I was expected to purchase my own clothing and incidentals, and would not have had the time to earn money to do so.

Every family is different, and there are many different ways to resolve family issues.

Elizabeth R said...

Anna,

I have long enjoyed your blog but am only now finally commenting! (I am shy about it.)

It is indeed very sad that parents do not know how to spend time with their own children. This is very apparent here in the US as school is just letting out and most of my friends are complaining loudly.

Regarding older children caring for the little ones, I am much like you in that my only sister is 2 years younger so we did not have that dynamic in my family so I cannot speak from experience. However, I firmly believe that every member of the family should pitch in and help in whatever way is necessary for the good of the family without any thought of compensation. I do hate monetizing normal, healthy giving of oneself to help others. That said, I do think there are a couple of exceptions:

First, in a family where everyone is supposed to "pay their own way" for everything that is not food, clothing, and shelter, if the mother wants to work, thereby requiring her daughter to watch the children and not have the opportunity to earn her own spending money - I think the daughter should be compensated - this is an expense of the mother working and the daughter should not be expected to bear it.

Secondly, being paid to watch siblings could be a great option/job for a daughter who does not want to work outside the home, but who is expected to earn her own keep. If someone is going to be paid for it, she can receive the money and the opportunity to stay home and hone her homemaking skills.

Whatever the case, watching ones own siblings in ones own home seems to be much more flexible than going out to a job - she would still have the hours when they are napping/occupied to pursue her own pastimes. Also, whatever the option chosen, the little ones should certainly pitch in and help with whatever they are able to do thereby lessening her work and learning important skills.

Whew! That was certainly long for a first comment. Thank you very much for your blog - it is a great encouragement to me.

Elizabeth

Anonymous said...

HI

I often watched my siblings while growing up- however, it was not all day all summer! If I was expected to watch them (I had 4 younger siblings) all day all summer, that is a job, and yes it would be nice to get paid. Simply because in the summer, many teenagers have summer jobs,and if a teenager is taking on the job of watching their siblings, then they are not able to get another job. One summer I babysat my cousins (4 children) all day 8-5:30 while their mom was at work - it was great fun but also work! and though I was not paid much, I appreciated the money my aunt paid me- it made it seem more like a "real" job and helped me, I think, to remember that I wasn't there just to play but to take care of the children and the house.

leah Brand-Burks said...

Once again, Anna, I agree with you totally. It brings to mind a phrase I want to keep at the forefront of my parenting journey: "You are not managing an inconvenience- you are raising a human being."

Anonymous said...

I had to laugh reading this post, because I was so blessed to have a mother at home... I was one of those "shy" children who hated the idea of summer camps!! No matter what, I genuinely did not want to go to any group activities. I was not antisocial, I just loved being at home, quietly pursuing my own interests, and playing with my brother and his friends. We would go to the park, make up games...sometimes the most fun was had with the least available "entertainment" if you know what I mean (in other words, we used our imaginations).

Anyway, the point of my comment is to speak up as a person who distinctly remembers being thankful as a child that I didn't have to participate in camps if I didn't want to...I could just freely enjoy my vacation.

Homemakers Cottage said...

I'm a young homeschooling, full-time mom. Since I don't work outside the home and since my 3 children don't spend the day at a baby-sitter or at public/private school, I have to smile when I hear moms complain about having to spend so much time with their kids during the summer. For us, it's just a continuation of "normal"! :)

As a kid, I remember ONE time complaining about how "bored" I was early in the summer months. My parents quickly cured that dilema-- we spent days picking, shucking, and canning corn from our garden. I NEVER remember complaining about boredom again!

~Kristy @ Homemaker's Cottage

K said...

And here I was so happy to have my baby girl back at home with me for the summer. Someone should have told me that I was supposed to be dreading this time. LOL
I love having my girl home with me again. A summer of unstructured time for her is oh so important after a long school year. While my daughter loves school and is already asking when it starts back up, I think a summer of hanging out with mom is just what we both need.

Sheri said...

Anna, this is a fantastic post my dear friend!

It makes my heart sad and my mind sick when I hear parents talking about summer with their kids as something to dread. I guess they don't know how to interact with their kids, many times their kids are out of control and not fun to be around because these parents have left all the training and teaching up to "others," and many parents don't find joy in the blessings of home with their children.

I also want you to know that it is possible to raise little ones who are never bored. I certainly have a LONG way to go on this parenting journey, but our 7-year-old and 4-year-old daughters are full of curiosity, creativity, and the joy of learning! I don't have to "entertain" them, although I love playing with them. And, I couldn't imagine wanting to give up the honor of parenting that our Heavenly Father has given me. I love summertime (and all seasons!) with Savannah, Alisa, and Levi!

Keep up the great posts! *Hugs*

Mrs. Anna T said...

I just think that if I was a teenage daughter in a family that is constantly running out of eggs and bread on their weekly food budget and has to ask neighbors for washing powder to last the week, with a mother earing a "mother's" salary and a father that is unable to stick to a regular job, I wouldn't think to ask for monetary compensation to watch little ones as I would know how much my parents are struggling and how many sacrifices they are making.

Anonymous said...

You might not ask for money, but that doesn't mean you wouldn't resent being required to work for free. My grandmother had a very close relationship with her siblings as a child (1920s) and adult, but I remember her and my great-aunt telling me how much my grandmother hated being required to look after her little sister as a child (and a teenager working full-time outside the home), and how much it restricted her own life. She did it, because she had to do it, the family had no alternative, but at cost to the sibling relationship at the time (conversely, when she was a young married woman her brother lived with her after their parents died, and she felt quite differently about that - it was a job that she was best-placed to take on, and she did). It's easy to say that you wouldn't have minded something when you never faced the situation. I love my sisters dearly, but I know that, even with no alternative, I would have resented my whole life being taken over by them.

(Nineveh_Uk livejournal)

Buffy said...

Interesting article (as always!).

It's funny how children have to be constantly entertained these days isn't it? What happened to imaginative play and spontaneity? Some family days out are great, but I would say for every one day out you should have two when the children are expected to entertain themselves, both alone and with friends. (With Mum or Dad in the background of course.)

I'm not convinced that the regimen of schools is a problem. I went to a very traditional school which was stricter than most modern school in this area, but it never affected my ability to amuse myself.

Nikki said...

I agree. I’m a babysitter and look after a 9 year old for a middle-class family. Once a week I also look after her cousins. I once asked; “why doesn’t your sister look after her?” She said: “because our children’s activities are conflicting”.

I take care of collecting her from the bus stop, taking her to activities (Violin, Dance, Karate, and Cheerleading) as well as preparing a snack, encouraging homework and her ONE and ONLY chore making her bed.

When it started getting warmer I asked if she’d like to play outside, “NO, IT”S BORING”, instead she wanted to go get an Italian Soda, or to play on her DS. Her parents, well her mom (her dad is always working), would rather drive her to activities than let her be as she puts it “IDLE”. Since when is a child playing, idle?

It is a new generation, and although I’m only in my 20s I remember my summers, I would ride my bike, go for long walks with my mom, make cakes, play with neighborhood children etc.

However, there are no longer children to play with, why? Because there AT AN ACTIVITY!

Marytoo said...

I was one of those teenagers who was left in charge all summer while both parents worked. I was not compensated in any way. Though I knew there was financial difficulty, I remember resenting the fact at times, because my friends were free to do whatever they wanted to do and go wherever they wanted to go, and I wasn't. To add to my resentment, I had an older brother who was one of those free-as-a-bird teenagers. No responsibility was expected of him.

This experience did not warp me for life. Today my youngest little sister (8 years age difference) and I are very close friends. I am the first one she calls to share the good and the bad. We joke about how I was her "little mother."

I am now the mom of four ranging in age from 35 down to 22. We homeschooled back when homeschooling wasn't cool, so we were alone a lot. No groups, co-ops, etc. The older ones helped with the younger ones, not like I did with my sisters, but I depended on them in many ways, and because we were a one-income family with heavy medical expenses, they were never compensated monetarily. They may have complained amongst themselves, but never to me, and today as adults they are all close friends.

Marytoo said...

P.S. About that boredom thing.

I taught my children two things about boredom:

1) Boredom is a sin. God has placed the wonders of the world and nature inside our own brains, and to despise that is an affront to Him.

2) Only boring people are bored. Unfortunately, our public "education" system today cultivates bored/boring people. When your life is rigidly scheduled with constant outside entertainment and discipline, you develop no inner resources, and you lose the capacity to entertain yourself in any way. If you can't interest yourself, how can you hope to interest anyone else? You become, basically, a person who cannot stand your own company, and that's about as boring as you can get.

Table Poetry said...

I see your point Anna about why a teenage daughter should understand her parents' hardships and 'volunteer' to watch the kids for the summer. And truly, there are some exceptionally altruistic teens who might do that.

BUT...kids are ultimately their parents' responsibility. This is a struggling family who chose nonetheless to have many children. I really don't think one should 'guilt' the older child into taking on the job of a parent, unpaid. She will be left with a bad taste in her mouth. It may even make her not want to have a large family herself.

As others above have said, this girl's friends are probably all earning spending money this summer. So not only will this 'older' sibling not earn some 'fun' money, but she will never be free to meet her friends. She won't be able to pop over to her friends' houses, go to amusement parks, go to the beach, or do anything that teenagers like to do. That would be a very unfair situation imo.

Also -- this kid has been at school for 7 or 8 hrs a day all yr long. Her evenings have been full of homework and studying for tests. Lots of pressure. She deserves her leisure time, she deserves a real vacation.

Now, of course, if the family is really starving, there may be no choice but to ask her to work for free. But that's a lose-lose situation in my eyes; the teen will be miserable, and the kids she's looking after won't get good, happy care. In fact, it could very well ruin the sibling relationship permanently. Resentment can do that.

I really think parents should have children THEY can care for. True, emergencies happen, situations change, finances can plummet. But for a family to continue having babies and just 'use' the older siblings as parents 50 hrs a week - that's just wrong in my opinion. Luckily your neighbour doesn't think like that.

Lena Michalev said...

"I just think that if I was a teenage daughter in a family that is constantly running out of eggs and bread on their weekly food budget and has to ask neighbors for washing powder to last the week, with a mother earing a "mother's" salary and a father that is unable to stick to a regular job, I wouldn't think to ask for monetary compensation to watch little ones as I would know how much my parents are struggling and how many sacrifices they are making."

Anna, if they are struggling so bad, how can their mother even afford to pay her a "hefty sum of money" to babysit her younger siblings?? If the family is struggling so bad, then yes, the daughter should do what she can to help out. It's not a pleasant situation to be with, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Thursday's Child said...

In a few days we move back to the States. We'll have cousins with us for the summer and have trips planned, but I plan for most of their day to day time to be spent playing outside. We have a farm and a huge yard. They can find plenty to do if they want. We also have a neighbor with a new pool. Trips to the library are planned and if I can fit them in, I'm taking my Little House books for the older cousin to enjoy. Maybe finish up the trip with a visit to Laura Ingalls Wilder's home.

I, for one, am looking forward to lots of "nothing" going on.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Buffy, I actually think the traditional strict schools may have been better for the kids than the constant over-indulgence going on in today's schools. In Israel, kids have totally lost respect for the teachers. There are many annual cases of violence against teachers committed by students.

Karen R. said...

Bravo! I couldnt have said it better myself. Just found your blog under Google Reader recommendations and love it. As a pro-homeschoolers I am totally put off by parents who just can't wait until school starts and complain about going nuts, even the stay at home moms! Like they have no idea what to do with their kids and sign them up for every camp in the area. So sad.