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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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 4 158 "impossible pressure" family matters be comfortable with uncertainty, and determine for themselves how they will best contribute to the world around them. Without a solid sense of who they are, kids often live their lives like chameleons, blend- ing in with whatever and whoever surround them. Lacking a solid core, when faced with unstructured and non-parental guided time they often behave frantically, constantly seeking out the company of others and binge drinking. "No one can do this work for our children," Henderson cautions, "and if they do not begin during adolescence, they only postpone the process until later in life." In many instances, activities like club lacrosse, dance troupes, math teams, and debate competitions can help our kids learn who they are and what they enjoy; other times, the same activities can have the opposite effect. Applying a few simple criteria to activities can ensure that they add to, and not detract from, our adolescents' well being. First, does our teenager want to participate? As parents it can be easy to fall into the knowing-what-is-best trap at times. Maybe we enjoyed an activity as a child and want a similar experience for our child. Or per- some way." While he recognizes that schools often feed the frenzy, Henderson cautions, "We all have to slow down and consider what is getting lost in the process." What downside could there be to our children being busy while excelling in sports, acting, languages, and participating in microfinance clubs and community service? Does it not keep them out of trouble and, if all goes well, provide them with admission to a highly selective college and maybe a great summer internship? As it turns out, there is plenty of downside even though it is not always readily apparent. "When parents are behind the steering wheel, driving their chil- dren's lives, it creates a damaging cycle of dependence," Henderson explains. This dependence thwarts teenagers from doing the real work of adolescence: developing a sense of self and identity, tasks that are essential to being happy, capable, and people of character. In Henderson's experience, when kids possess a sense of self, they can determine what is important to them. Guided by an inner com- pass, they can engage with integrity, take risks, ask probing questions, M E D I A B A K E R Y / V E E R 154-159_WWMa14_family matters_busy_v2_WellesleyWeston Magazine 2/2/14 12:58 PM Page 158

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