The Argument In Support Of Keeping Teens Busy. Very Busy.

by | May 23, 2015 | Parenting/Family | 6 comments

I have mentioned somewhere before that I used to be critical of parents who keep their teens and kids busy.

You know how the judgement goes, “KIDS ARE TOO BUSY THESE DAYS!” And then the dentures come loose and a cane goes flying…

I think that might have been a legit argument in earlier decades of parenting.

But as times have truly changed… *insert eye-glance at YouTube and Snapchat, and Twitter, and Instagram, and and and…” so has the way parents need to think about parenting and what it is that our kids are busy doING.

Keeping Teens Busy

Back when the only form of electronic entertainment came in the form of sound (radio) and then in black and white, there was some element of control… if only due to the fact there there were so few choices.

Compared to now.

I still remember the days when I said my children would NEVER have a TV in their rooms. And then one day I walked into my daughter’s bedroom after she’d been absent from the family-at-large… I found she’d been watching YouTube video after YouTube video after YouTube video after…

So much for my television set obsession. I was so focused on a particular piece of furniture I identified as something that would steal my child from me, I missed the most obvious of child stealers.


As much as I complain about the busy-ness of having busy offspring… it is even more challenging to have offspring who are NOT busy.

  • – Many don’t know how to entertain themselves… they are so used to constant access to electronic entertainment. Their “what to do” instinct has been reprogrammed.
  • – Wider social input (social networks) give kids a false sense of… a lot of things.
  • – If they get invited somewhere that is less-than-ideal, it can be hard to say no if there is no good reason other than, “Because I said so.”

That last point is really the point I want to expand on here…

Busy teens (and tweens) don’t have time to get in and/or make trouble.

ON and OFF line.

I am sure there is scientific research to back this up, but I am the Mom and I actually don’t care what scientists have to say on the topic, I know I am right.


Teens (and tweens) can’t participate in things their parents don’t want them to participate in if they have plans.

No argument.

If it can’t be done it just can’t be done. Easiest. Reason. Ever.

It’s an easy out, and no feelings get hurt.

I do tell my kids I am happy to be the bad guy. An added level of face-saving when it comes to their peer relationships. Their peers can go on think I’m as rigid as a… bar of gold!

It sounds so contradictory but here is the truth: What makes MY life easier is keeping my kids’ plates full.

It doesn’t make life less busy and hectic, but easier if one considers the high price tag consequences of some of the opportunities our kids have access to.

When the kids are young, the battle is more controlled (as controlled as can be with a 3 year old). Though I didn’t feel I had any control (see: reasoning with a three year old)… I had carseats and mommy & me playdates. I was there. I knew what was going on.

The playdates don’t include me anymore (which doesn’t grieve me, I’ll be honest) (playdates can be horrible) (HORRIBLE) (can I get an AMEN). So the battle now is letting go. I am fine with that… my goal is to raise kids who will move forward and be happy and successful and buy me a lakeside home.

Letting go is key to helping my kids reach the goals I have set for them they hope to reach.

Letting go at the tween and teen age comes at a higher asking price than it does when they are 3, 6, or 9.

At 3, 6, and 9 my babies rode in cars with other moms and dads. Now I am having to consider what TEEN may or may not be driving my child around.

At 3 I would worry if the adult at house my child was at was cutting the hot dog pieces into small enough pieces. Now I worry about locked liquor cabinets, unfiltered internet access, and teen drivers.

Where am I going with this?

Say your teen gets a Snapchat or private message on Instagram to go to a party. You don’t know the party host. Nor his/her parents. Or WORSE… You DO.

You have this check in your gut that it’s not a good idea. You are the parent, so intellectually you know its your way or the highway… But. It wasn’t easy saying NO when they were three… It is certainly not easier 13 years later.


I’m sorry! You can’t! You have XYZ…

I’m sorry! We planned for our family to XYZ…

A well-packed calendar is like having a well-stocked pantry. It’s never a bad day when you make a tray of corn dogs and you open the fridge and there is no ketchup, but then you check your pantry and, WHAT?! FOUR BOTTLES OF KETCHUP! CORN DOGS FOR EVERYONE!

No one likes corn dogs without ketchup.

But I digress.

All this blathering to say… it takes a lot of effort and intention on our part, Mom and Dad. But the emotional expense on the other side can be significant.

Of course, this strategy isn’t flawless and you can’t have a plan for every minute of everyday, but I think you can take this for what it is.

And/also/furthermore I’ll be completely transparent… having to run around and deal with several crazy schedules takes an attitude adjustment and extra caffeine, on my part. But when I think about the headache and potential cost behind teenage boredom, it changes my attitude real quick. Suddenly yet ANOTHER trip to the practice field is a welcome delight.

The Argument In Support Of Keeping Teens Busy. Very Busy. via @jennyonthespot

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