Maybe it is just the articles and studies that I have been reading lately, but at times it seems like you just can’t win as a parent. A recent Canadian study gave an F to the physical activity level of Canadian children. As expected, conjecture and dialogue about parent roles and responsibilities followed after this “Report Card”. There are often various conclusions suggested — e.g. parents are too busy, parents aren’t balancing screen-time enough, parents aren’t modelling good habits, parents are being too over-protective, etc. Interestingly, the study also noted that some organized sports had limitations in how much vigorous activity was involved in practices as well. The conversations often continue around the role of the school and community with all of this.
The survey results also pointed to parental fear as a big factor in the decreased amount of time that children were outdoors playing in their communities. The fear that communities are no longer safe would also demand more supervision time than parents might be able to give nowadays. Various factors are likely at play (oh, pun!), but one thought that I kept coming back to was: It can be lonely out there, period - for kids and parents!
During the years I committed to being home-based while my kids were young, there were many days when we were the only ones at the local parks – both at 10 am and 2 pm! Sometimes evenings brought about a bit more of a hub of activity. But often not when the seasons of organized sports started up. In those days I did not have a smart phone to connect with anyone while my kids played. I don’t think I regret that at all, but I can understand why some parents are on their devices during outings with their kids. We can love our kids to pieces, but parents also need adult conversation in their days….and if we aren’t meeting up at the parks or in the neighbourhood…or if there aren’t many families with kids in the neighbourhood…where does that leave us – kids and parents?
As parents, we all make choices or have certain choices available to us. I don’t think many parenting choices are easy, and we may not always know if the choices we make are the right ones for the well-being of our own kids and family. A recent blog post by @northTOspy touched on some of the same regarding our choices as parents and the judgements that others make. I think parents need to support other parents, as do our communities, to support and increase healthy options for families. I think we also need to take more time to understand why things are the way they are. This might lead to more solutions as opposed to blame.
Oh…the reason for the photo with this post….just one of my ol’ favourites of my childhood play. I don’t know who took the picture of me and my brothers. I don’t know who was supervising us – maybe my oldest sister? Should my parents have let us play on that dead whale? Should we have been so close to the shores of Hudson Bay without life jackets on? I am not sure, but I did survive to tell that whale of a tale