WellesleyWeston Magazine

SPRING 2014

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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"Everyone seems to be happy," responds a Weston parent. "Is there a problem?" A similar range of opinion exists among researchers in the field. Dr. Joseph Mahoney, who heads the Center for Research on Out-of- School Time at UC Irvine, argues that too many American children are not busy enough—40 percent of the students he surveyed do not participate in any organized sports or other pursuits. Mahoney's research finds that the more time children spend in organized activi- ties, the better their grades, parental relationship, self-esteem, and the lower the incidence of substance abuse. Six percent of the students Mahoney interviewed live on the other side of the spectrum, spending 20 or more hours a week engaged in organized activities. Although we might expect to find these kids to be overly stressed, surprisingly, Mahoney found them to be thriving. A study conducted at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood, Florida found quite different results. Ninety percent of the young people surveyed said that they felt stressed because they were too busy, seventeen percent said they felt this way most of the time, and twenty-four percent said they felt this way all of the time. Like most things, busyness is relative. Some kids can benefit from more activity, others from less, and still others from staying the course. Research shows, however, that most overscheduled kids generally come from educated, higher-income families. Ironically, despite living in a relative state of abundance, these families, perhaps our families, are highly susceptible to the scarcity mentality that permeates our broader culture. The scarcity mantra says: there are limited opportuni- ties and they only go to the best candidates. It can drive parents to do more, script more, and protect and propel more, all in the interest of giving their children the necessary leg up to be successful in a hyper- competitive world. "There is a professionalization of childhood taking place," observes Robert Henderson, headmaster of Noble and Greenough School, a private day school for middle school and high school students in Dedham. "Parents are anxious, afraid of failing their children in family matters "kids can benefit from more activity" 156 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s p r i n g 2 0 1 4 M E D I A B A K E R Y 154-159_WWMa14_family matters_busy_v2_WellesleyWeston Magazine 2/2/14 12:58 PM Page 156

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