Young people today are in a crisis of high expectations, a broken educational system, and a world of stress, sleep deprivation, and depression. Our educational system says to young people that in order to succeed they must pursue academic perfection at the sacrifice of all else.
Hours of homework, tutors, advanced classes, and a full resume of extra-curricular activities are the minimum requirements to get into a “good school” leading to a “good job”. The big problem for parents is that we want our children to be successful, but we also want them to enjoy being kids.
Young people are under so much pressure to succeed that there is little wonder why teen suicide, eating disorders, self-destructive behavior, chronic sleep deprivation, and ulcers are as common as acne. From an early age we are putting school success ahead of the leisure, play, and recreation that children need to develop into healthy adults.
When is it time for parents to step in and help our children reclaim their childhood and adolescence?
Overscheduling activities and events is encouraged by schools and parents often feel they must go with the trend to ensure acceptance to a “good” school. So our children are on the school athletic teams, members of all the appropriate clubs, in all the AP classes, and doing six hours of homework a night.
There are no easy answers to this problem. Parents who step in and limit their children’s activities are flying in the face of mainstream thought and perhaps hurting their children’s future. There is a growing movement to eliminate homework and many parents feel that this is the first step in reducing the stress young people are caught up in. So, again, what is the answer?
The answer to how you want your children educated and what your expectations are for your children is a personal commitment that must be agreed upon by both parents. This entire process can be even more confused when parents are divorcing. It is confusing for children of divorce who may be more easily overwhelmed by overscheduling and less likely to assert their own wishes and goals.
When parents are divorced it may be harder for them to find common ground and present a united front when setting goals for their children. Educational issues, like any issue pertaining to the raising of a couple’s children, needs thorough and thoughtful discussion, agreement, and commitment. In a litigated divorce there is literally no protocol for these things to happen.
Negotiation takes the place of discussion and there is little possibility for agreement and commitment. However, when a couple chooses mediation is a method for their divorce discussion, agreement, and commitment become priorities.
As I said earlier, there are no easy answers to the problem of overscheduling and the stress it creates, but parents have a right to determine the expectations they have for their children and the ways they can help their children meet those expectations. The best way for parents who are facing divorce to make the plans and clarify these issues is to communicate with each other.
Because communication is the cornerstone of mediation, parents who have concerns about their children’s education and schedules should certainly consider a mediated divorce. A mediated divorce will allow parents to arrive at their own answers to this complex issue and make responsible plans for their family.