Monday, July 1, 2013

Kids Spend Too Much Time With Their Friends

Family time.  Everyone talks about how important it is for a family to eat dinner together at the table.  And I do think that’s important. But more than that, I think it’s a symbol of what’s really important for a family – and for kids. And that is simply spending time together.

Kids need to spend a lot of time with their family. It grounds them. It establishes roots and ingrains a heritage. It bridges generation gaps and it helps everyone stay up on each other and know what’s going on. In short, it keeps a family close.

Kids these days spend a lot of time socializing. They spend a lot of time hanging out with their friends. Especially teens. I would even venture to say that teen hangout time and social time is greater than family time. From what I’ve witnessed.

Teens don’t want to be with their family all the time. They’d much rather go to the movies with friends than show up with mom and dad and see a group of their friends in the next row. They feel left out. Uncool.

I say, sometime’s that’s necessary.

I battle how much time to let my teens have out and about with their friends. How often do I say ‘yes’ and how often do I say ‘no?’ I do want them to have friends! I want them to have memories of fun times at the basketball games and fun sleepovers. But I also don’t want to lose touch with them, with what they are thinking, or with who they are as people. I don’t want them to lose touch with me. And it can happen so quickly. So easily.

I know a lot of teens aren’t home that often. Especially when it comes time to drive and/or they get their own car. But as a parent, we still have a right to insist that our kids be home and around family.  It’s all about balance.

Remember the Waltons? Families like that have kids that grow up to be grounded and well balanced young adults. Families like that stay close all throughout life because they went through life – AS FAMILIES. It wasn’t “us” doing this and “our kids” out doing that. No two separate entities. It was US – the family.

It is one of the main institutions that has been lost today. The family unit. And it shows in the dysfunction of everything around us.

Yes, our kids grow up. Yes, as they mature and show responsibility we need to give them a little more leeway and rope in their life so they can feel that independence in a safe and loving environment before they are out on their own. But they also shouldn’t live a life that is only “them” focused. And if all they do is things THEY want and hang out with friends all the time – how can they ever develop a well-balance attitude that considers and includes those around them? Especially those who love them the most….their family?

Sometimes we have to say ‘no.’ We SHOULD say ‘no.’  Sometimes our kids need to eat dinner at home with us, stay home and wash the car or mow the lawn, clean their room, go to the movies with us, or simply stay home and be with us when nothing at all needs to be done. They belong to us as we belong to them. And the world isn’t “them” centered.

If you want your kids to be involved in your life – you have to insist on it for awhile until they see the importance of it on their own.  They will always want to spend time with their friends, but who do you want to have the most input in their life…..their friends….or you?

Peers can be good but they can also be bad. And kids shouldn’t spend every spare minute learning life from their peers. They should learn it from their family. Share it with their family. Grow in it with their family.  But to do that, they have to spend time with their family first.

One day, hopefully, they will choose you over their friends. Not out of obligation – but because they actually enjoy your company, trust your judgment, and most of all….love you dearly.

Friends will come and go, but a family will always be there. So invest in it. And instill that sense of investment in your kids as well. Before long, you will have built a strong heritage and legacy.

And who wouldn’t benefit from that?

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