Prune the Activity Branches

What makes a “good” parent?  Under the belief that we are “good parents” we seek a plethora of activities and opportunities to get our child involved in.  Unfortunately, instead of making sure our children do not “miss their calling” we inadvertently overload and stress them out.

For some parents, especially moms, there is a fear that we may hurt our children by not allowing them to experience multiple opportunities which creates a drive that pushes parents to over commit their children.  This fear is based on a belief that within each child is a special ability which will distinguish our child from others.  It will enable them to rise above and be superior to other children.  This ability lies deep within them waiting to be tapped through a loving and caring parent who does not stifle or squash this ability.  What is needed for this ability to be exposed is a diligent exploration of different types of sports, clubs and activities.   This belief creates the assumption that an apathetic, selfish parent will limit a child’s exposure thus eliminating any chance that the God given, perhaps God ordained special talent is never discovered.

Ironically, the very parent who is afraid their child might miss something actually creates the very environment that takes away several things that are essential for children: optimum amount and quality of sleep, leisure time, time to unwind and talk, time to use their imagination, time to get to know one other. These beneficial activities are limited when children are over scheduled. Overloaded children are going from school to lessons to sports games or practice to homework and musical instrument practice and finally to bed.

I have several rose bushes in my yard.  I love flowers but have had great difficulty in growing healthy roses.  The reason is due to my poor pruning skills.  Too many branches have produced too few flowers.  I am convinced it should not be this way.  My mind reasons that the more branches that grow, the more flowers I will have.  But it is not so.  From my experience the exact opposite is true.  The rose bushes with the most branches produce the smallest flowers.  The one bush I cut back produced many large beautiful roses.

I believe it is time to prune the activity branches.  OK, maybe your child won’t develop into a world class athlete or Miss America, instead they will grow up with healthy emotions and relationships and an understanding that the world does not revolve around them and their schedule. Is that so bad?  I think that pruning will produce a more beautiful and desirable flower than many will admit!

I Thessalonians 4:11 “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you”

May God’s grace and peace be with you,
Mark and Ellen Strohm

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Mark Strohm

Husband, father, grandfather, Mark has served as teacher, school principal, church staff, seminar speaker, writer.

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