Payne approaches this question by offering examples and advice based on a career of working with families to deal with the effects of "too much" in their children's lives. The book is structured to address his premise that an undeclared war on childhood exists because
"we are building our daily lives, and our families, on the four pillars of too much: too much stuff, too many choices, too much information, and too much speed."
Payne draws convincing parallels between the behaviors of children from relatively affluent Western families and the behaviors of children he has treated in many war-torn countries around the world: both groups of children exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorders because
" the sanctity of childhood had been breached. Adult life was flooding in unchecked. Privy to their parents' fears, drives, ambitions, and the very fast pace of their lives, the children were busy trying to construct their own boundaries, their own level of safety in behaviors that weren't ultimately helpful."
Kim John Payne
Payne holds a Masters of Education degree and his career has taken him from school counseling to private family counseling to consulting with educational associations around the world. He is the Executive Director of Simplicity Parenting and works to offer parents practical tools for life.
A very long time ago, when my daughters were still young, there was a period of time where we had a very busy schedule. The benefits of homeschooling our children included the activities in which we could partake - ballet lessons, T-ball, volunteering, as well as field trips and art classes with our homeschool group. We had something to do everyday of the week!
I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed - and embarrassed when I forgot my grown-up appointments - but thought it was necessary in order to give our daughters the best opportunities. We rushed to finish our school work, rushed to get ready for the activity, rushed to get there, rushed home to complete chores and make dinner, rushed to spend time with Grandparents -- we were always rushing somewhere or in some way.
Believe it or not, a car accident -- nobody was hurt! -- created the space to re-examine our schedule. We were on the way to ballet lessons and found ourselves in the middle of a five-car fender bender. Both ends of the Jeep needed repair and we were without a car to get to all those activities. It was wonderfully calm; our days were not rushed, the girls seemed more focused and less prone to arguing with each other, and I realized I had confused quantity with quality. In Payne's terminology we re-balanced and created a sustainable schedule giving our children more leisure and rest time.
Simplicity Parenting is an excellent resource for parents who are looking for suggestions and guidance on how to protect and enrich the wonder of their child's growing years by