What's Childhood For?

By Scott Schimmel

“I’m just so tired of always doing something and going somewhere- can’t we just stay home and play?”

That’s one of my kids recently making a request (read: whining) as we yelled at him to get his shoes on, turn off his lights, pack his backpack, grab a snack and get in the car. 

I have three kids, all elementary age andyounger. And we’re already ridiculously busy. 

We’ve got two of our kids in sports with practices and games every week, often at different times and different fields. Piano lessons. Homework. Dentist appointments. Church events. 

To remind you, we’re not in High School yet. Our kids don’t play private travel club sports. They don’t have group projects or SAT prep courses. And our toddler isn’t even really involved in anything yet- she’s just going with the flow. We’re just getting started, and it’s already crazy. 

What are we doing, and why are we doing it this way? Do you feel me, parents?

We spend our days in open conversations with High School aged students talking honestly about the state of their lives, their pace, their pressures and the expectations on them, and how they’re truly doing from an emotional and social point of view. I recently asked a group of 8 High School students how much sleep they get and when they typically go to bed and they said, “Oh, going to sleep at 11 would be early, usually midnight or 1, and then get up again at 6 or earlier to get more homework done, go to practice or get to school on time.” She said that with tears in her eyes. 

What are we doing to our kids? 

Michelle Rose Gilman, Founder of the Fusion Academy and Learning Center locally in San Diego wrote an article for Huffington Post recently called In the Name of College! What are We Doing to Our Children? She asked a really uncomfortable question: “So I ask you, what is childhood for?”

If we are hoping our kids grow up to be fully functional, healthy, self-aware, self-confident and self-directed adults, who understand their individual uniqueness, take responsibility for their lives and connect with the world in meaningful ways, are we sure what we’re doing is going to get them there?