"But it's not educational!"

It's amazing what is expected of parents today. You have to keep your kids in all sorts of activities, run them from place to place, and do everything possible to help them learn. But sometimes I wonder if we're going overboard.

A couple of months ago I was talking to one of my sisters about a toy I wanted for my daughter, as her first birthday approached. I don't remember exactly which toy I was considering, but I remember my sister's protest "But it's not educational!" I couldn't help but wonder, "Does every toy HAVE to be educational?"

Think back. When you were growing up, did you care about whether or not your toys were educational, or did they just need to be fun? How many formal activities did your parents make you do?

If you were like me, you never cared about the educational value of a toy. I participated in soccer for four years and took flute lesions. Each of these was because my mother insisted I do something of the sort, but didn't take up much of my free time. I played with my friends far more than I participated in activities, and yet I don't feel deprived. The same sister who complained that the toy wasn't educational had previously commented to me that the other mothers seemed to feel she was neglecting her 8 year old because she didn't have her in a bunch of activities for the summer.

I sometimes wonder if kids are allowed to just have fun anymore. Expectations seem to be getting higher all the time, not only for children, but for parents. If you're not running all over the place to get your children to their activities, some people act as though you're negligent. Personally, I'd rather find activities that can be done as a family or even a group of families, than sign my daughter up for a bunch of activities with children she doesn't even know.

My husband and I have agreed that our daughter will have to take a sport and some sort of creative class once a year, but any more will be up to her. Unless it's her idea of fun, we won't make her run from activity to activity. We'd rather treasure our time together as a family than push her into things she won't enjoy. And some toys ARE just because they're fun.

 

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Copyright © 2003-2017 Stephanie Foster unless otherwise indicated

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