Last Sunday my friend and I went to see Race to Nowhere. I wanted to see this movie since it is created by a SF Bay Area film makers and raises the problem that seem more typical for our area than failing schools - the problem of overwhelmed and stressed kids trying to succeed in competitive environments where stakes seem to be raised every day. It’s about parents pushing their kids because everyone else seem to be pushing too. It’s about childhood without any downtime, about children who don’t have time to chill out or play because they are running around from soccer practice to piano lessons and then come home and spend hours on homework. It’s about teachers who cannot teach the way they want, because their success is measured not in how engaged their students are but in the scores of standardized tests. And the interesting part is that private schools are affected even more with this drive to success than public schools. Even though I was not in full agreement with all the points of the movie, it’s definitely worth checking out if it plays somewhere near you.
It made me think of how we view “success” in our own family. Both me and my husband are educated professionals, and we definitely want quality education for our daughter. But we also want her to learn that she doesn’t have to be the best in everything she does and she doesn’t have to be constantly busy. Right now we deliberately avoid extracurricular activities because we want to have the time to spend together as a family. I am sure that eventually she will start doing something, but I just don’t want her to be on this merry-go-round of endless classes and to spend hours in the car being shuttled from one activity to another. I am hoping to raise a healthy, kind, respectful and intelligent child who has time to pursue her own interests and to try different things without feeling a pressure to perform.
Question: Do you feel that your kids, especially older kids, are overloaded with all their obligations? How do you define success in your family?