CHILDREN'S ACTIVITIES NEED MORE FLEXIBILITY
From: Janet M. Smoll
I am sending this in response to your article of Oct. 3, 1990: "Vandalism: A sign something's wrong" by Russ Mullaly.
I reach my hand to you in thanks, Mr. Mullaly. I think, as an adult, you are truly seeing life from our childrens' point of view. So many well-meaning organizations try to structure programs and offer leisure-time activities to our children to give them something constructive to do.
What we need to do now is add a little guidance to the structure to keep our cherubs from going "over the edge."
I am speaking from my own experience as a new resident of the Howard County area. When I moved here, I was overwhelmed by the number of activities that are available to children of all ages in the Howard County area. I am a firm believer that children's energies and interests need to be channelled in a positive direction.
I immediately set out to spark my childrens' interest and give them a sense of belonging to this new community.
As you say, this is a new era and not only is it necessary to find ways to involve our children, but we need programs that allow for the busy time schedules of our parents who, in reality, are the source of transportation, funding and scheduling of our childrens' involvement in the community.
In my own circumstances, I have a middle-school-age child who does not drive. This makes it difficult for her to attend late afternoon activities in the neighborhoods that are too far for her to get to by bike. I have also found that other activities that accommodate a nominal fee are filled as soon as they are advertised, others that accommodate my weekly work schedule require every-weekend sessions which I must work around my daughter's every other weekend visitation with her father.
When I think I've found the perfect program that fits our family's needs, the rules for participation are so great that they do not allow for flexibility with acceptable reasons for arriving late or missing classes.
After all, we all make mistakes. (Some absences are beyond our children's control).
I am not saying that there are no good programs out there. I have found a number of excellent programs and many program leaders who have been willing to work around our changing times for the good of our children.
The point of issue here is that this process of searching for a structured program of leisure time activities for our children that allows for flexibility, errors in personal family scheduling, transportation and financing is exhausting for me, the Single Parent. However, my hunt is still on; I am not "over the edge," yet!