Leisure Features

There Is a Cure for Summertime Blues

Summer is a great time for children to develop independence and street smarts. As I was recently recalling adventures from my own summers past, I realized that the current version is so much different, and with much lacking. And that’s a shame.

My days were spent playing army in the woods with BB and pellet guns, cherry bomb and M-80 fireworks and army knives. My posse would travel on bikes for miles seeking out baseball or hockey teams in other neighborhoods to challenge. We’d play for hours. While there were many arguments and occasional fights, we always managed to work things out. We’d ride our bikes to an old, wealthy widow’s backyard pond and fish all day, often catching little or nothing. But it didn’t matter. We were footloose and fancy free.

And that is what’s missing today for most kids: freedom and adventures. A typical kid’s summer schedule is full of supervised activities, with little or no downtime to create their own fun. If you are looking for a reason why so many college-aged young adults seem so lost, anxious, depressed and stressed, look no further than this: They have been prevented from growing up as independent people.

Those summer adventures I mentioned allowed me and my friends to initiate, create and manifest our own play. We supervised ourselves, solved our own problems, took care of ourselves and our friends and siblings, made decisions and experienced the consequences of those choices. As a result, we became more independent, responsible, resilient, street-smart, confident problem solvers … and happy.

So as you start looking at your children’s summer itineraries, pause and set some intentions first about what you want the summer to mean for them. If you place autonomy and freedom as imperatives, you will turn potential summertime blues into lifelong lessons and opportunities for kids to bloom.

It’s pretty clear what I would choose.


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