FoF: What Kind Of Summer Parent Are You?

dad2summitFatherhood on Friday

Every summer it happens: School’s out, every day for your kids is a blank canvas, and it’s up to you to decide how they fill it up. Until they get older, and you hope you’ve helped them build the habits and instincts they need to fill it up on their own.

Summer is a blur of activity, and each year we need to choose: do we maintain some degree of regimentation (camps, courses, community service, etc.), or let our play- deprived kids shut down the machine for a few weeks and recharge? For those of us who even have the luxury to pay close attention to such things, the quest involves trusting our instincts and finding a strategy that indulges both, so they can:

  1. Set even a small goal and achieve it with being nagged at.
  2. Walk away from a screen or a phone without being nagged at.
  3. Complete a chore without being nagged at.

Et cetera.

We’re not opposed to structure, but we’re big fans of unstructured play. Freedom is a process, during which confines of the school year fall away. The dictates of scholastic routine border against the limits of the imagination, and then they knock each other down. A fresh start, if only for the summer, is not entered lightly, but once there, the air is clear and inviting. This is how batteries are recharged, whether you’re 12 or 50, and while there are countless obstacles and exceptions to the rule, it is a thing sorely needed.

Summer is a time for new things, tries and fails, family vacations should circumstance allow, and the growth of self. You can’t schedule that.

We’re ready to recharge our batteries, too, and next week we’ll take the time to do it. It will be our summer break, and that’s as far as our plans go.

Fatherhood on Friday will return on August 3, probably with a sunburn.


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Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash