Monday, April 8, 2013

A Plea for Childhood, AND Adulthood

I am talking with a friend who is nearly at his wit’s end.

“My team at work is grossly under-resourced,” he says. “It’s wiping us out physically and emotionally. I’m begging for help, and management turns its face away.”

“What are you going to do?” I ask.

“Triage,” he says. “It’s all we can do. Triage. Some things just won’t get done. I’ll be blamed if things blow up, but I can’t work my people to death.”

We talk about what triage means. Simply translated: if no crises erupt, they will eke by if they do the bare minimum. There’s just too much of the “bare minimum.”

Given the business his company is in, a crisis is inevitable.

He’s also keeping a record.

In Not So Fat: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families, author Ann Kroeker says we need to allow our children to have a childhood. We need to stop overscheduling and overpreparing them to meet the world’s standard for success, if for no other reason that we’re setting the stage for their ultimate failure.

I have a corollary. We need to allow adults to have an adulthood, too. We need to stop piling work on people already grossly overworked.

This isn’t a new problem. More than a hundred years ago, Mark Twain observed that it was characteristically American for businessmen to always try to get by shorthanded.

Millions of people have quite the labor force in despair over finding employment, while millions more face chronic overwork. Both create massive stresses and pressures on families.

No, the problem isn’t new. But it has an urgency today, because the family is under siege like it’s never been before.

We can make a choice to slow the frenzy down for our children. And we need to start talking about how to slow down the frenzy in the workplace. If I had a magic wand about overwork, I'd wave it. But we need to start talking about it.

Over at The High Calling, we’re discussing Not So Fast each Monday in April. Today, Seth Haines is leading the discussion, so head over there to see what’s happening.


Laura Boggess said...

Yes. Even working only half-time in my profession I feel this. And what's more, our churches more often than not reinforce such practices. The old 90-10 rule. You are right, Glynn. We need to start some serious conversation about this.

Mary Harwell Sayler said...

Amen! And my work goes so much better when I seek God's help in setting priorities and give myself a sec to respond to whatever comes up rather than just reacting to the "tyranny of the urgent."

Ann Kroeker said...

Glynn, I love how you are calling for sanity and balance for adults to enjoy adulthood. Sometimes we have to survive an era where we have little control over work situation. I hope we all experience grace in that season of life and explore alternatives that may open up. It's not easy. I've suggested to people that we will always have non-negotiables in our lives that we truly cannot control or change, so at least take care not to pile on extras in areas where we *do* have control. That helps a little.

Anonymous said...

Each family can make small changes starting with the words that need to be said.

Anonymous said...

Overscheduled, underscheduled...turned upside down by the standards that are not our own. falling for the lies.