My two youngest children are best friends, and play a lot with each other. It is so fun to see them enjoy each other. This summer we have noticed that they are getting a bit too much play lately though. The sun comes up and someone is at our door asking to play. The children do their chores and run outside. They would stay there day after day, all day, if I didn't ever call them in.
The other day my husband and I noticed some very distracted behaviors. My six year old was showing off a lot and acting a lot more "crazy" than usual. He was also trying to be the "funny guy" by popping off. We looked at each other and both knew something needed to change <!--break-->in my son's day. He was having too much friend time. The influence of the friends were transforming him into a more selfish six year old than he regularly was.
In our family meeting this Sunday we decided to put limits on play times and increase family work times. When we brought it up to the children they were totally on board with the idea. They knew that they were getting selfish and lazy and wanted a change too. In one day my little six year old has already had a change in attitude.
We love friends, but it is so hard to keep family as the first priority if friend time consumes most of the day.
It is hard to say no to friends, but our family has found out that saying no to friends sometimes is the same as saying yes to family! We think it is more wise to care about the feeling in the home and the character of the family members then the enjoyment of the neighborhood children.
One of our foundational principles is people often ask for exactly what they do not need. This usually always the case with children. When they beg for computer time they probably need book time, and when they beg for candy they probably need vegetables. We call this Janet's Junk Food Principle.
Think of things you can do to encourage your family to love family time more than friend time this summer. If they say they are bored, they are really saying they want more time with family and with you.