No, you’re not in a movie theater.  This post is simply an introduction
to several connected themes I have whirring through my head.

I had lunch with a friend yesterday and she talked about how she’s
organized her five- and seven-year-old to make their school lunches,
help prepare dinner, and set the table.  The two kids alternate nights
for being “on duty” with mom in the kitchen.

I expressed my admiration and immediately felt a pang of guilt that I
haven’t been more structured about regularly involving my already
nine-year-old in these home activities.  I know that contributing to the
home is supposed to make kids feel proud (that’s the first theme). 
Amy packs her school snacks, but I still do the lunches (what kind of
lunch would she choose, I wonder?)  She helps us clean when we ask
her, but she is certainly not on a regular schedule of contributing.

Did I also mention that she is my very busy, “I want to do everything”
nine-year-old?  This leads me to my next theme: kids’ activities.  For
years, I’ve been wondering, how much activity is too much?  When we
get home from the day’s activities, she needs to dive right into
homework or piano practice, or she’ll be up past ten o’clock.  So she
therefore doesn’t participate in dinner preparation or household chores
during school weekdays. 

She still manages to get all her homework done, but doesn’t have
much creative think time about the topics beyond what’s assigned. 
She seems to be getting enough sleep, most of the time.  She enjoys
every single activity she’s doing, and can’t seem to identify which
one(s) to drop or minimize.  All of them are healthy and/or
educational:  swim team, piano, church choir, 4H, dance, Odyssey of
the Mind.

One cut on this is that I am raising a well-rounded child, who is not
just focused on academics.  But then I think about other cultures I’ve
been exposed to through my student exchange work, such as the
South Koreans.  I know that those children go to school all day long,
take a dinner break and then return to school at night for focused
study in art, another language (usually English), and music (rarely
time for sports).  I know that the Indian culture doesn’t encourage
their high-school students to participate in a lot of sports, as it takes
them away from their academics.

Theme number three: can any cultural approach craft a fine global
citizen?  Overall, I think the answer is yes…so why am I not feeling
more peaceful about my daughter’s lifestyle?  Is it because it only
works with vigilant hyper-management on my part? 

Your turn:  If you have any input on any of these themes, I would love to hear it. 
I’ll be expanding on each of them in future posts.

Mama J (Diane Fromme) is a writer, parent, and stepparent located in
Northern Colorado.  For more information on her stepparenting book,
go to


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2 Comments on Preview of Upcoming Themes

  1. brianfromme says:

    I wasn’t sure if I should be the first to comment, given I am the Dad, but here goes.

    First, I think that the questions are as valuable as the answers. It is in questioning that we strive to do better and make more of ourselves and our families.

    – can any cultural approach craft a fine global citizen?

    Wow, that’s a good one. Personally, I don’t think there can be any ‘one’ approach. But, I do like the notion of teaching our kids to question what they see and look for peace in the outcomes. Also, I think it is too easy for a young person in Northern Colorado to believe that the rest of the world is just like their home, so exposure is an important teaching tool.

    – so why am I not feeling more peaceful about my daughter’s lifestyle?

    Another good one. For me, when I feel unsettled about something, I see that as an internal guide for making changes. When I feel more settled, I think I have found the appropriate path. For me, I think kids need both exposure to lots of activities and experiences, but also enough time to be kids. When the first seems to overtake the second, perhaps some tweaking is worth trying.

  2. I have some rambling thoughts 🙂 These are great issues that we all face frequently – I know I’ve had similar thoughts as recently as yesterday 🙂

    What comes to mind for me around these issues is that we live in a society that is very focused on finding the “right” answer. But why does there have to be one “right” answer? We all have different personalities, priorities, and values. Each of us has to look for the answer that is right for our family.

    I resonate a lot with Brian’s point that the questions are as important as the answers. What skills are you looking for? What is your daughter looking for, and what is important to her? I don’t see contributing to housework as being about learning housework. I see it as learning that some things are important even if we don’t feel like doing them right now; feeling a sense of community and shared goals; and if done together, a sense of family togetherness. If you are looking for her to learn that sometimes we have to do work we don’t feel like doing, it’s likely she is learning that already from school and her outside activities – which can’t be always fun, even if they are things she loves 90% of the time. perseverence toward shared goals I think are actually much more effectively taught when the goal is one that one has chosen. I *choose* to have a goal of a peaceful home. Family together time can be found even with a busy schedule of activities.

    Does that mean that I think everyone should sign their children up for a ton of activities? No – it wouldn’t be the right answer for my family – but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong for yours.

    “so why am I not feeling more peaceful about my daughter’s lifestyle?”

    When faced with questions like this, I try to sort out which parts are based on fear (which isn’t a good decision making tool, usually leading to shying away from something), and which are based on values that aren’t being met (which leads to new paths that are more in line with our values). Usually when I’m disconcerted by how well someone else is doing something, it is fear talking, though sometimes when I explore the fear further I find that there is indeed a value I would like to focus more on as well.

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