Family Priorities

Hey there!  By now, you probably know the drill…  find a glass of tea or a cup of something hot and a comfy spot to sit a minute.  If you’re new here, welcome!

Lots of my posts recently have been much more about faith than life.  Today, we’re going to tackle a piece of life head on.  I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard someone say, “I’d love to, Mom, but the kids have a game…”  Since when did kids’ activities become the most important thing on the over-committed calendar?

I agree that kids activities are somewhat important.  Unfortunately, someplace along the line we’ve gotten all the priorities and pecking orders way out of whack.  (Not sure what ‘whack’ is, but we’re way out of it, at any rate, lol.)

When I was growing up, ‘in the olden days’, we went to school and had one activity outside of that.  Music lessons were an addition.  We never played multiple sports on top of music lessons, 4-H, Scouts, drama, dance lessons, etc. all at once.  Back then, sports were fun – not Olympic trials every season with multiple practices and games that kept us occupied six days a week.  My parents were decidedly not my ‘cruise directors’.  They were my parents.  And you’d better believe that if the grades were low or the homework wasn’t done, there was nothing else in life.  Period.

My dad was my absolute best friend until the day he died.  But let me tell you a couple of things about him.  There were no Sunday ball games.   We spent Sundays an hour drive away with my mom’s family.  The other thing about my dad was that he spent time with us one-on-one and taught us things.  He taught me responsibility and commitment to a thing – we had animals, we had homework, we had jobs around the hobby farm that needed doing. He didn’t leave that to a coach or teacher.  He stepped up and was a parent.   He worked hard, but never over 45 hours a week.  Our family came before the company he owned.  And we spent lots of time with dad’s family, too.  They mostly lived in the same town as we did, and he modeled family importance in an unmistakable way.  I wish I’d done half as well as what he taught me by his example.

When my kids were young, they played outdoor soccer.  Their coach told the league from the get go that his team would not play on Sunday.  Not negotiable.  So, they were only scheduled for one Sunday game in 15 seasons – yes fifteen seasons.  He finally agreed to one Sunday game, at 3pm, so everyone could get to church, have family dinner, rest a bit and only then think about a soccer game.

I’ve seen several instances of families who missed grandparents’ birthdays or anniversaries, or something equally important because one of the kids had a ball game that interfered, or had yet another tournament – multiple games on the same day – that wiped out every sense of family commitment.  I’ve seen families skip Sunday morning church because they wouldn’t be out in time to make the kids’ scheduled game.  I’m not anti- sports.  My kids played over 20 seasons between them.  I agree that if one joins a team they should be committed to that team.  But there has to be a hierarchy of importance – God first, family second, activities last- every time.  Every time.

We need to teach our kids that life isn’t all about them, not to mention that it’s not about keeping them entertained from sunup to sundown.  It’s about faith and family and community, and responsibility and commitment to those things.  As parents, we need to stand up and tell ‘the league’ that our kid isn’t playing ball on Mother’s Day.  Or Father’s Day.  Or any Sunday.  We have to do this because the kids can’t do this for themselves – it’s up to us to teach them, model for them, protect them.

I challenge you to look at your priorities, and then at your calendar to see if it really reflects those priorities.  You might need to pray and make some course correction.  You may be very unpopular with your kids or their coaches.  Integrity sometimes comes with a steep price tag; but unless we model it, our kids have no chance to learn it.  As with everything else I’ve ever written, if you need some help, find a priest or pastor.  Let them pray with you, and maybe give you some good ideas on how to implement and maintain reasonable changes.  I guarantee you won’t be sorry for putting faith, family then activities into proper priority.  Someday, your kids might even thank you.  🙂

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