I’ve written previously about what I think is a need to let children ‘play’ – that good, old fashioned, free-form play that most of us did when we were young. There are many good reasons for this, but one that I want to write about today is related to what I call cultural stress. I see it a lot.
Cultural stress is what so many of us experience. It’s not the ordinary stresses of everyday life, but what the super-connected world imposes on top. Technology isn’t to blame here. The fact that we’re constantly connected to something, and work long hours, isn’t the fault of technology. It’s us.
But what I see in my work as a teacher are parents and children who are ‘stressed-out’ of their minds.
- People are working longer and harder than ever.
- They can spend up to an hour or longer in traffic getting to and from work.
- They have to ‘have’ everything now: the 5-bedroom house with 3-bathrooms, landscaped garden with pool, an SUV and a luxury sedan.
- Their kids never get to experience holidays in a caravan camp or holiday park by a beach or in the bush - or in their own city - but are off to glamorous or exotic places such as Bali, Paris, Tahiti or New York.
- The kids don’t do anything besides go to school and home because their parents are too busy with all of the above. Very often, these same parents look to the school system and teachers to fill gaps in their kids’ lives.
And compounding all this, no-one has time for anybody anymore – simply because there isn’t time, not because of lack of interest. This leads to isolation of parents, children and families and that is no good for anyone. It is common nowadays to have children starting school who do not have any friends; it’s not because the children are not capable of making friends but because they were not given the opportunity to socialise and mix with others outside of pre-school because their parents are too busy.
Nearly every day, I read something or other on Motherpedia and elsewhere about what we can do for ourselves, our partner or our children to improve health, relationships, nutrition, fitness and wellbeing. It’s all terrific advice!
It’s not my business to tell some of the stressed-out parents I see to relax and be kind to themselves. Their cultural stress is so pervasive, you can almost feel it, and it is certainly communicated to their children who will generally have behavioural issues to deal with, or learning issues.
In my household, we are no less immune to this than anyone. We have taken the decision to take time out to relax consciously and deliberately as individuals, as a couple and as a family. It's only a small thing, perhaps. I see such extreme examples at work of where stress can go so wrong and have an impact on relationships and children - who have no choice in the lives their parents lead. I thought it was one of those 'small things' that was worthwhile.
Feel free to join in!