Bruce Feiler for The New York Times: Overscheduled Children: How Big a Problem?

October 11th, 2013

13THISLIFE-articleLargeThe New York Times
by Bruce Feiler
October 11, 2013

Now that the school year is under way, my wife and I are busy managing our children’s after-school schedules, mixing sports practices, music lessons, homework and play dates. It can be a complicated balancing act for our elementary-age daughters, as some days end up overstuffed, some logistically impossible, some wide open. Still, compared to when we were children, the opportunities they get to sample on a weekly basis is mind-blowing.

There’s only one problem: To absorb the conventional wisdom in parenting circles these days, what we’re doing to our children is cruel, overbearing and destructive to their long-term well-being. For years now, a consensus has been emerging that a subset of hard-driving, Ivy-longing parents is burdening their children with too many soccer tournaments, violin lessons and cooking classes. A small library of books has been published with names like “The Over-Scheduled Child,” “The Pressured Child,” “Pressured Parents, Stressed-Out Kids” and so on.

In recent years there’s been some backlash to this view. With scholars releasing studies showing the benefits of extracurricular activities, whether paid for out of school budgets or parents’ pockets, a smattering of articles began to appear with names like “The Overscheduled Child Myth.” Still, the more common headline reads: “10 Signs Your Kid Is Too Busy.”

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