February 13, 2012

masquerading as opportunity

My Farmer and I decided last night to opt out of an "opportunity" for our children.

I know, I know, what indifferent parents that makes us!!  Children need opportunities; we shouldn't let them miss out on an opportunity to visit the elderly / sing with a choir / help out with a church project / make new friends / etc., etc., !!!

[insert guilt]

Actually, we see it as a positive move.

We've seen how opportunity-ridden our immediate cultural circle is, and how the opportunities, despite being perfectly good ones in and of themselves, quickly pile up like so many annoying battery-operated toys.  For our family, more opportunity has not been better than less.  In our experience, more opportunity often equals ill-rested, bickering, ungrateful, restless children who don't get enough "normal" to remember how "normal" feels.

We are opting instead for the opportunity to give our children the gift of free time.  That's right, time when they get to decide how to fill the luscious minutes:

They might play outside (yes, even in the cold!), working on their elaborate (and sometimes slightly disgusting) recipes for their "cat hotel", riding bikes, jumping on the trampoline, or just poking around, seeing what's coming up looking for spring.

They might play inside, creating a cozy space in a little-used closet.

They might rummage through their crafts supplies, bored, until something sparks their interest and they begin to create.

They might play with their little brother, building block towers for him knock down, reading stories to him (well, pieces of them, as he rapidly turns the pages), or setting up sofa cushion forts for him to hide in.

They might read.

They might write stories several pages long, complete with illustrations.

They might write letters to friends.

They might get out puzzles or play games with each other.

They might ask to cook something.  (And I, on a good day, might let them!)

They might offer to clean (it has happened, to my great astonishment and joy!!)

: : :

It's hard to be a radical:  I started this post feeling a tad defensive about our choice to say "no."  But writing this has reminded me that although our children might not have flashy resumes, they are discovering inner resources of creativity and I will always be happy that we gave them the chance to do it.

We can do hard things!

And so, believe it or not, can our children.


  1. Thank you for this. I don't yet know how or if it will practically affect my life, but I appreciated the encouragement to simplicity. And the reminder that God works in the beautiful arrangement and His design of a healthy family. What a wonderful thing!
    I love to read your blog. You have a way of saying things that I can really relate to, and I find some specific encouragement and delight in probably every post or comment that you write. Praise God for your encouragement! Thank you!
    -Aimee Beth

    1. AimeeB, thank you! No doubt the seeds of what you like in my blog were planted during that memorable week over a decade ago when my Farmer and I stayed with your family. :D

  2. I love the sentiment behind this post! Children have such creative minds and an incredible world to explore and discover. Leaving them free to do so, is truly a great gift. Go momma! =)


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