Time management is a challenge to anyone, but especially in these days where there is peer pressure at all ages to be as busy as possible. However, juggling activities and their priority is a necessary life skill for parents to impart in their children. But how exactly does that work?
It can be tempting to pack a schedule full in fear of that old adage, “idle time is the devil’s playground”. However, this article by Dr. Meg Meeker gives excellent insight into the truth that some idle time is necessary for teaching kids how to “live life”. The other danger of a full schedule is that it takes time away from family and religious obligations, leaving kids skilled in piano, soccer and martial arts but lacking in the social and spiritual skills they will need for life.
While lessons, teams and hobbies are good for developing one’s total SPICE (spiritual, physical, intellectual, creative and emotional) it’s important to be rooted in “the soul of true worth”, which comes not from what we do but who we are. Foundation in faith and family constantly brings us back to the fact that no matter what activities or talents teens may have on their agenda, their true worth as a child of God and member of their family is most important.
It is the role of parents to instruct teens in the art of balancing family time, religious obligations, school, teams, friends and their countless other obligations. Parents should be encouraged to know that research from the National Study of Youth and Religion show that spending time together as a family has countless benefits to youth, including surprising ones like higher grades. The study also found that most youth and parents would sacrifice an evening activity for a chance to have dinner together.
In addition to family time, the National Study of Youth and Religion found that, In terms of a variety of life outcomes… highly religious teenagers are doing better across the board than their less religious peers. Whether they realize it or not, more religious teenagers fare better than less religious teenagers in terms of “risk behaviors, quality of family and adult relationships, moral reasoning and behavior, community participation, media consumption, sexual activity, and emotional well-being.”
For Catholics, involvement in Church is not just a positive statistic, it’s also an obligation. Like a good parent, the rules of the church exist to guide us into spiritual maturity. She echoes the words of Christ when He said, “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (Jn 6:53).It is because of these words of Christ, and the fact that, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “to receive communion is to receive Christ himself who has offered himself for us,” that the church “obliges the faithful to take part in the Divine Liturgy on Sundays and feast days.”
Time management is not easy, with so many important activities vying for attention. In the end, the best question to ask when weighing the decisions of a schedule is, “will this help me and my family grow in virtue and reach heaven?”
The planning of every week can begin with Psalm 90:12: “Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” When scheduling, begin with Mass on Sunday. Add dinner as a family and other important obligations. Then, don’t be afraid to eliminate the excess and allow for free time.