The documentary makes a convincing argument that structured specialization prevents our children from achieving greatness, especially in athletics, but also in other disciplines.
After interviewing and examining the upbringing and work ethic of over a dozen all-star athletes and musicians, the movie concludes that if you want your child to be great, raise them on a well-rounded diet of interests and physical activities. Do this until at least late high school or even college in some cases. Only then should children focus and devote the majority of their time to one pursuit.
Although it seems counter-intuitive, the filmmakers argue that this strategy allows our youth to play by different rules and see things differently. And there’s strong evidence suggesting this cannot be done if aspiring athletics, musicians, and others are strictly raised on only speciality from a young age, which is increasingly the norm now. That’s bad because youth specialization stifles their creativity and innovation and prevents them from developing other muscles and talents that can have a positive crossover effect on their primary passion.
I’ve been reading Jonathan Haidt lately and find his work fascinating. From his latest book, he debunks the following three myths that make our kids and ourselves worse off:
Children are fragile—what doesn’t kill them makes them weaker (which is why so many parents coddle now)
Always trust your gut and seek out confirmation bias (which is how we quickly dismiss opposing ideas and evidence)
Life is a battle between us and them and black and white (which is why we verbally fight as much now as we used to physically)
Haidt is quick to point out mounting research showing that we live in the most physically safe, peaceful, and prosperous time in history, despite our very real problems. But believing in the above only makes the world more offensive than it really is.
For a more fulfilling and less aggravating life, we must roll with the punches, look for disconfirming evidence, and treat most of life’s tragedies as the complicated gray messes that they really are as opposed to always looking for a villain to place blame upon.
I have a confession to make—when it comes to raising a family, I don’t believe in “quality time,” a phrase you’ll often hear in America as justification for earmarking or designating an especially important encounter with children.
In truth, I just believe in time. And sometimes that time is nothing more than quantity. In other words, I try to be accessible and available to my children, even if I don’t have something particularly profound to say or a bond-worthy experience worth sharing. For example… Continue reading…
My wife and I believe the world is inherently good and we want to indoctrinate our children to think the same. Not by ignoring society’s seedy underbelly. But with measurable evidence such as this that overwhelmingly proves the world is getting better and better.
To that end, my wife shared the following quote with our children and I over breakfast recently: “Feed your faith and your fear will starve.” In other words, people who are afraid are usually consumed by doubt.
But in my experience, we can replace that fear and doubt with hope and love by doing the following: Continue reading…
My dad won’t like me for repeating this on the intertubes, but it’s too good not to.
Growing up, my old man would regularly sneak off to his tiny toilet room to get away from his loud wife and six, know-it-all children. It was one of those “bathroom within a bathroom” type deals where the toilet had its own lockable door—you know, for added privacy and to keep the fumes from offending a significant other using the sinks, bath, or shower.
Funny thing is, that toilet room would have been claustrophobic for an undersized gnome. While sitting on the toilet, small children could have (and regularly did) touch opposing side walls with ease. It couldn’t have been longer than six feet.
Nevertheless, my dad would retreat there for what seemed like hours, reading Rand-McNally maps or whatever almanac or resource books he left in there. It was his sole sanctuary, that is until he took over the entire second floor after the kids left home.
As a stunning teenager, I remember thinking something like this: “Dude bought this big ole house and everything in it, and yet the only space he has to himself is a 6×3′ toilet room.”
Now, as the children have begun overrunning my own house, I have found myself in similar situations. Granted, I have it better than he did. I enjoy a private home office that is only occasionally open to the kids for impromptu dance sessions (since my desktop doubles as the house’s best hi-fi). And my “toilet room” is much larger than his.
But I still stay in the bathroom longer than I should. The only difference is instead of Rand-McNallys, an iPad comes with me.
Since first subscribing to the daily paper this summer, I’ve been exposed to more Dear Abby columns than a 1950s trophy wife. The last one I read was horribly political, so I decided to guide the advice-seeker myself. Here goes:
Dear Smooth Harold: My husband wanted to postpone having children until we were more financially secure. But I really wanted a baby, so he agreed, though only after I promised to return to work once the baby was born. That was a year ago. We now have a wonderful 2-month-old, and since “Avery” cam along, I realize how important it is for me to be at home with her. My husband disagrees. he says we need my salary in order to meet our financial obligations, and he is angry and upset that I won’t return to work. But I think there’s nothing as important as the nurturing a mother give her child. Who’s right?—R.F., Southern California
Dear R.F.: Why on Earth would you ask me, a complete stranger, such an important question without knowing my background first? I could be a baby-snatcher for all you know, or completely against everything you believe in! But alas, perhaps you’re at your wits end and have no one to confide in. If that’s the case and you don’t feel comfortable anonymously researching different opinions online or posting to a message board, then I’ll indulge you. And I assure you I’m neither a baby-snatcher nor a posturing moral hypocrite. Continue reading…
The rascal you see pictured above is my 1 and a half year old, Maddie. Lindsey and I often call her “The Destructor,” because she’s so rambunctious.
She also teases her elder sister Sadie—quite frequently.
I first noticed Maddie’s habit several months ago. If the girls are ever meant to share something, Maddie will usually dangle it in front of her sister, then rip it away at the last minute with a cute little chuckle grunt. Like her mother, Sadie would never do something like this, nor does she find pleasure in doing so.
I played football for three years from 6th through 8th grade. I was a running back, and I loved hitting people while holding the ball—lower your head and boom! On the other hand, I hated being blindsided. And one drill is the mother of all blind side tackles: Bull in the Ring.
For a pansy example of the drill, watch this video at minute 4:45. Now for the reality as a youngling playing in the deep South. First, just about everyone who plays football hates Bull in the Ring, except those crazy jacked up players that aren’t quite right in the head. As its name implies, one player is encircled by the entire team. In my case, it was around 18 players usually. So 17 vs. 1. Nice odds, eh?