Have you ever heard of the term “Going Family?” You probably know the ones I’m talking about. These are the families that are running from one type of school, camp, social or sporting event to another – all day long, 7 days a week. There doesn’t seem to be a calm moment in the “Going Family” environment. I just don’t understand it, do you?
Here are a few “Going Family” myths that I uncovered:
Myth #1: Only Child
An important thing I noticed is that the amount of “going” in a family doesn’t necessarily relate to the number of children in the family. I have seen an only child in my neighborhood shuttled from school to their tutor and then to karate, soccer practice and finally to music lessons all in one afternoon and into the evening. This kid always looks tired to me and I rarely see him playing with my son or the other kids in the neighborhood because he is too darn busy running around to the next “Going Family” appointment.
Myth #2: Married Couple vs. Single Parent
Another point I want to make is that this “Going Family” phenomenon can apply to just about any type of family. From the single parent who is co-parenting with their ex, to the married couple that just can’t keep their children at home; everybody seems to get caught up in the “Going Family” game.
I have some theories about this subject. One is that some parents just don’t want to keep their kids at home. Think about this, if they stay at home with their children, they might just get to know them and have a real relationship. Another one of my other theories is that a parent wants to keep their child busy at all times and wants to make sure that their “little Johnny” is exposed to just about every type of activity possible. Is this done out of guilt? It sounds compelling and compassionate, right? I think it’s just silly and wrong and it exposes our children to mental and physical overload. Life gets busy enough when we’re older, why start our children early?
Myth #3: The Other Person’s Fault
I talk to many single parents about this issue and I am surprised by how often they blame over-scheduling on the “other person.” I hear things like, ‘It’s too late, my ex-wife already signed my kids up and now I have to take them to practice during my custody weekends.” I don’t agree with this at all.
When I was married, I noticed the sense of urgency in my wife to have our children “rushed” into various sign-ups. It didn’t bother me as much when I was married, probably because I was just as caught up with it as the rest of us. But after we divorced, I noticed it a lot more, only in a different way. The news of the “Going Family” activities came in a “after the fact” disclosure from my ex. Emails like, “By the way, your son has practice after school at…” or “Don’t forget that I told you to take your daughter to…” I finally reached a breaking point. I noticed that my custody weekends were being filled from Friday to Sunday with these “going events” and I wasn’t spending any quality time with my children. Instead of using anger, I practiced civil disobedience for a few weekends in a row. We didn’t leave the house for any activities other than a trip to the grocery store and it worked! The “Going Family” syndrome came to a screeching halt. Today, all kid’s activities are discussed with diplomacy. My ex-wife and I negotiate very well and most activities are managed fairly between both households and custody schedules.
Now, I’m not blaming a particular person based on their marital status or gender. I am just complaining about the “Going Family” and what it seems to be doing to our children. I hear a certain expectation coming from our kids – they always have to be “going somewhere.” I have been co-parenting for over 10 years now and I can tell you that I am still caught off guard by some of my children’s “going” requests.
Daughter: “Dad, what are we doing this weekend, and where are we going?”
Daughter: “Yes, going. I’m bored.”
Father: “We’re going to stay home this weekend”
Father: “Because when I was your age, I used to work side by side with my Father and do yard work with him and my brother…”
Daughter: “Oh. Isn’t that why people have landscapers, Daddy?”
But most of the time I’ve found that slowing down our schedule will also give us more time to just be.
How about your family? Are you always on the go, or do you make time to spend at home together doing nothing? Any changes you’re thinking of implementing in the coming school year?