I work with the scouts in my area and get to interact a lot with young men because of that. I have noticed a disappointing pattern. Anytime we try to plan an activity the response from at least one, but often more than one, is “I’m busy that day/night/weekend.” Sometimes this is really an indicator that they aren’t interested in the activity, but more often than not it is an actual conflict in the schedules. No matter what we want to do, or when, they have a school activity, a vacation, or practice for a sport, or band, or the school play. The thing that disappoints me is that with so much going on, when do they ever spend time with their families?
As if these boys weren’t busy enough, we try to do activities and campouts for our troop and frequently we find that scheduling is a problem because the district has something planned for almost every weekend – a campout or a merit badge pow-wow generally. It seems like every activity (scouts, football, marching-band) is designed to be all consuming so that you must only choose one thing and devote your life to it.
I have written before about what I call the cellphone culture – this is an example. Once again I am determined that my family will not be like that. I would like to encourage my kids to try activities according to their interests, but I know that I will have to be very careful about how committed we get to the various activities lest our family becomes as fractured as our society. If the kids have similar interests so that they can participate in some things together that would help, but I will not have one child feel obliged to do something just because others want to do it. I expect it will be challenging to encourage the kids to develop their individual interests without compromising the cohesiveness of the family unit.