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Controversial Parenting: Counter-Cultural Decisions

May 10, 2013

Be yourself, your own person. Go against the flow. Stand up for what you believe. Cultural values, right? Haven’t I espoused these cliches to each of my kids at one point?

But why do we usually suffer for doing this very thing? 

I am in the midst of wanting to make an against-the-flow decision about the kids, prepared to suffer, but finding it so difficult to make!

It’s not the first time. We’ve made other unpopular decisions for the sake of what we deemed best for our kids, our family. Like breaking up our son’s relationship. Uh uh. Want advice on that one? Call me. Like making same son suffer 2 years of a “barbie flip phone” as two teachers referred to it, before we upgraded. And, refusing Halo or Modern Warfare or Call of Duty. Oh, and only allowing PBS until recently! I know, it’s torture here at our house.

This season we have entered the competitive sport decision and I have to confess, it is making me crazy.


I have a problem spending as much on soccer as we will on braces.

I have a problem requiring so much time on one activity for one child to the exclusion of all else.

I have a problem asking my 10 year old to decide what her sport is going to be- for ever.

Because we aren’t going to over schedule her. We aren’t going to juggle 3 or 4 or (gasp!) 5 activities at the same time for one kid!

We value our kids’ sanity, our family dinners, an occasional weekend in the mountains, and have far too many other financial demands and desires of where our money might go. Workout uniforms for soccer do not rank high on that list. 

We’re talking about my writing club kid. The one we gave singing lessons to for her birthday. Same kid who burst into tears watching her sister’s first gymnastics lesson because “she has always wanted to be a gymnast in the Olympics!” The girl who started basketball this winter and is signed up for volleyball this summer.

And you think I dabble?

I’m supposed to expect her to know now, at this age, that she is so passionate about soccer that it is worth our investment of time and money to see her dream become a reality? To decide at this age that we’re shooting for a college scholarship?

I am confident there are kids who do know. I see families who are soccer families, music families, baseball families and they live into a shared passion with intensity and focus. I get that and it’s easier to understand the investment of time and money for such a passion.

But for all the other 10 year olds who are still discovering themselves, are they going to be left behind in all sports because they didn’t become competitive when all their peers did? By choosing to take our time in becoming intense, are we saying goodbye to soccer?

I really really want to make a stand on this one. What will the kids learn by our choosing less? Can we involve them in the financial conversation – where else we might spend that money? Might they appreciate our decision to go against the flow?

Do we have the courage to be different and then purposefully live it out? Fill the space of time and money with intentionality?

Honestly, I don’t know. Living cross-culturally is something I know all too well. It is hard and wearisome. And would be so much easier were just a few parents to join us in saying enough is enough.

Because it is enough, isn’t it?, to fill our afternoons and weekends year round with kid activities, making younger and younger advanced, elite, competitive athletes, spending more and more money instead of giving it away…

It is enough, isn’t it?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 13, 2013 5:56 pm

    It is enough. Young brains, I do believe, need space. Space to daydream, to come up with their own answers and questions, and to learn who they are. Maybe you’re going WITH the deep flow and just not getting tossed around in the foamy waves. There seem to be no truly easy answers when it comes to parenting.

  2. Joy permalink
    September 10, 2013 10:29 pm

    Just now saw this post. Enough is enough! We struggle with this constantly, and I am glad to hear I’m not the only one! Have you read the book, “More or Less” by Jeff Shinabarger? It talks about the concept of enough, and intentionally defining that for ourselves and our families, with specific activities at the end of each chapter to begin discussion and action. Read it and let me know what you think!

    • Beth Bruno permalink*
      September 11, 2013 3:22 pm

      Joy, thanks for the book recommendation. I’ll add it to my stack and let you know! What did you find most helpful from it?

      • Joy permalink
        September 11, 2013 4:48 pm

        What I found most helpful was the very concrete examples of “experiments” he had done over the years, or his friends had done to try to live with less. For example, trying to only eat what is currently in your pantry, fridge and freezer and see how long you can last without going to the grocery. They thought they could do it for a couple of weeks, and ended up going 7 weeks! I like the specific ideas that I can try with my family today, or come up with one of my own.

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