I’ve got some study briefs for you about the importance of your family playing together, having quality time, making breakfasts, and even doing chores together. Bear with me through the weeds of these studies (I doubt everyone is like me who loves to read studies) for some big nuggets of truth.
From the 2015 Freshman Survey of 150,000 full-time students at more than 200 colleges and universities, first-year students who spent 16 or more hours a week hanging out with friends fell by nearly half over 10 years to just 18%. Also, 41% said they felt “overwhelmed by all I had to do” and logged the highest levels of unhappiness ever recorded among women. 69% say they felt that the people around them were “not really with them,” and 68% felt as if no one knew them well. Source.
That is statistical proof that connects to the truth that teens are not connecting in friendships. Where are these loyal friends? Are loyal friends even being developed?
The summary the author found was that kids these days are prioritizing goals, not meaningful connections. Today’s teens really are different than you were. The beliefs held by these college freshman (reflecting the rat race of their high school years) are if they are not constantly busy studying or attending meetings, something must be wrong with them, their schedule, or their work ethic. The achieving for their worth continues because it is what they know.
This overscheduled craziness that I talk about too often may not feel like a problem to you maybe because you see your child wasting a whole lot of time in front of a screen. How about this twist? Many teens and young adults turn to the screen because they feel it’s the only “authorized recreation” in a culture of constant work. Where did they get this messaging? Not a glib sentence. Ponder it.
Better question, how can we change this voice in their heads?
Scary question for me as a youth pastor. Am I contributing to this rat race schedule of prioritizing goals and not valuing meaningful connections? I feel the urgency to teach them what a life of faith looks like and for them to not be biblically illiterate. I only have a very limited amount of hours to teach our teens. I don’t want them to be biblically illiterate as I also want to schedule in “wasted time” so loyal friendships can be birthed. It really is a catch-22 and something I pray about all of the time.
Can you as a parent be countercultural and allow your teen downtime? Silly time? Wasted time? Not screen time. This is different time.
Who hasn’t played with Legos? The LEGO Group examined the state of play for parents and children in nine countries and found that nine out of 10 families (88%) who play together for five hours or more a week claim to be happy, but nearly a third (30%) of families spend less time than that on play, and one in 10 (10%) play for less than two hours per week. Of those who play for less than five hours, only seven out of 10 (75%) say they are happy.
Sadly one in five children (17%) say they are too busy for play, with four out of five (81%) wishing their parents would play with them more. Almost all kids surveyed say play makes them feel happy (93%) and helps them relax after a long day at school (87%).
Six in 10 (61%) parents admit they get distracted by other demands, including work, house chores and their smartphones. Despite daily challenges, parents say play is good for their own well-being (91%) and happiness (72%), and that it helps them feel more relaxed (86%) and connected to their children (64%).
According to the report, playtime has become more fluid for kids in that it’s a mix of real-world, imaginary and digital experiences. In fact, most children (81%) still prefer playing with their parents rather than alone, and three in four (72%) prefer to play with friends in the same room rather than online. Source.
Just some more facts to help you be countercultural. For the sake of your children.
But wait. There is more. I “attended” a webinar called “Spiritually Vibrant Households.” The biggest takeaway was “If we’re regarding any effort toward faith formation in the household as an outcome on its own, and if we’re seeking to understand what distinguishes the people who prioritize these efforts, it’s instructive to know that they are the same people who appear to make any activity a priority. Welcoming guests, watching TV, sharing breakfast and other routines and rituals are also common in households that carve out time to read the Bible, pray or talk about God together. … In short, practicing Christians who intentionally cultivate a spiritual environment in their household are simply intentional to begin with. Good fun, good work and good faith seem to go hand in hand, indicating spiritual growth is yet another way of being present, interested and engaged in the lives of those around you, or vice versa.” Read more at https://www.barna.com/research/fun-faith-in-our-homes/?mc_cid=cf5acb61aa&mc_eid=3e6cfd5c01
This is an infographic from this webinar I “attended.”
Look at these simple things you do (I’m sure you already are) that are shaping your teen’s faith. These are your intentionalities. Play together. Do chores together. Waste time together. You are giving your kids so much.