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 | By Steve and Bridget Patton

She says: Sports and Other Activities are Good for Kids

They teach them lessons about teamwork, practicing, etc. I see no reason to limit how many our kids engage in.


He says: Family time is more important.

Sports, dance, piano lessons, you name it. Our kids are interested in every hobby and sport imaginable.

Finding the right balance for children between family life and outside activities can be challenging enough even when parents share the same vision of what that “right balance” is. It gets much more difficult when the two have differing thoughts about what the goal for their children even looks like.

 It seems that might be the case here, so let’s look at your respective thought processes.

Mom, you say you see no reason to limit the activities your children get involved in. But you know that’s not realistic, right? You know that over-committing can result in under-performing, and that’s why healthy limits have their place. So, ask yourself, why would you characterize your goal for your children in terms of “no limits”?

Perhaps you resent your own parents for the limits they placed upon your outside activities. Maybe “family life” for you felt suffocating. Maybe some part of you actually wants to spend more time chauffeuring your kids so you can get out of the house. Who knows? The point is, whatever wheels are spinning deep inside you, they are influencing, and maybe warping, your judgment about what’s best for your children.

Likewise for you, Dad. Yes, in a certain hierarchy of values, family life is more important than outside activities. But that doesn’t neatly translate into a formula for apportioning your children’s time. It’s also true that their relationship with God is more important than their relationship with you. (Lk 14:26) But that doesn’t mean they should spend more hours at church than with your family, right? So, as you consider what’s best for your children, honestly ask yourself where each of your “it should be this way” thoughts is coming from.

Family life, school, communal worship, prayer, rest, recreation, outside activities: Each is good and each has its place in your children’s lives. But each takes time, and there is no absolute, universal formula for how to optimally allocate their time. Be assured, though, that your likelihood of finding a shared vision for what works best for each of your children, and for your family, will increase as both of you identify and let go of any unnecessary, preconceived and limiting beliefs and expectations about the ways things “ought to be.”

Steve and Bridget Patton hold master’s degrees in theology and counseling and serve as family life ministers in the Diocese of Sacramento.

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