The flawed mother

I am particularly hard on my kids if they ever dare utter the words ‘I’m bored’ or ‘what should I do now?’. I won’t tolerate that mainly because in my life I have struggled with being bored and aimless.

Before the age of about 28 I didn’t have any dreams or goals. I lived in a vacuum of the present tense. I lived life affected by the moment, affected by those around me and the goings on of the day. I never  considered developing any skills to any accomplished level. I have journals full of angst, desperate words wanting to believe in and be excited about something, anything! I tried many activities – dance, poetry, fine art, academics -  but nothing ever stuck with me. 

I think that now I do have what I was missing - purpose, drive and passion (how I finally got that is a story in itself, for another day) - I hold that up as a yardstick in my parenting. This can be a good thing, but it can also be potentially harmful.

Left image by Shannon Mucha, right by me

In the case of combating pointlessness - I give my kids lots of options, of things to do and believe in. I talk to them about the importance of finding something to love to do. If my kids show any interest in any topic we talk endlessly about it, buy a book about it, sign them up for a class, take them to a show, order a documentary on it from Netflix, generally generate excitement about the topic. We cover every base!

It could be argued that it is unfair to do that to my kids - to fill up their minds and schedules because I am particularly sensitive to what I lacked by way of passion. I swore not to try to live out my life through my kids, like the stage parent who pushes their kid to be an actor cause they missed the boat themselves. But it is hard not to, isn’t it?

But as it also stems from a desire for them to be happy and productive (I could never wish the emptiness of pointlessness & boredom on them), I can cut myself some slack here, but I think it is good practice to keep in context my personal failings. 

So while I don't let my kids say they are bored. Ever. I do realize that sometimes having nothing to do as a kid can be freeing and helpful. So sometimes I purposefully don't give them stuff to do and tell them to go play. And you know, they always find something fun to do or create. My goodness the amount of stuff my kids create in a week is astounding!

And in regards to their interests - if it sticks, great we keep going. If not, we let the interest fall by the wayside. I really don’t mind what they are interested in, as long as they are interested in something! Life is so full of good stuff to do and believe in, I want them to help them find their path.

So my principle is - when I feel myself getting overly upset at how they are acting I look at myself to see if it is something that has been my own issue. I try to step back and be cool. Then I pray that they are protected from my shortcomings and that good things will come from them instead!


  1. Shona ... I absolutely LOVED this post. So real and honest and thought provoking. I am dying to hear the story about how you came to know your passions. I struggle sometimes with putting my expectations on my kids vs. letting them go with what they love. Case in point ... I signed Savannah up for ballet. I think she is a beautiful dancer. She HATED it and loves Tae kwon do. I never, ever thought I'd have a child in martial arts ... and un-signing her up for ballet took me a bit ... but once I did, it has been amazing to watch her flourish in her "thing".

    I teach all my HBU students to pursue their passion. Otherwise they will never, ever love their job.

    It was SO great to see y'all Friday night. Thanks so much for letting us visit!! Your children are precious and your home is awesome. SO much fun for us to see you and Mark and the brood!

  2. Shona, I don't think yours is the case of trying to live your life through your children at all because you are basing what you have them do on their own interests, not yours. And when their interest wains, you drop it and move on to something else. And you are not constantly pushing them without a break. You allow them free time to create. It is only when they are aimlessly wandering about with nothing to do and are truly bored that you then require something of them. So I think your approach is excellent and very balanced. That is much the way I parent my children as well.

    I will give you a little tip for when they are teens. Think twice before allowing them to have texting on their phones and a Facebook account, because that will then become their lifeline and they will spend all of their waking hours with mindless connecting with their friends. There goes the reading, learning new skills and creativity.

    If you do allow it, I would suggest, having strict boundaries of how much time you allow to be spent using these things. And not allow them to have their phones during school hours. It is too much of a temptation.

  3. oh my...i certainly could have used your insight years ago as i was raising my youngins as a flawed mother...they don't come with an instruction booklet do they? i had the opposite drive growing up, i wanted to embrace everything as my favorite thing SO when i realized the influence that trait had on my kids, i had to pray, stand down and embrace balance to provoke them to figure some things out on their own... you are sharing a wonderful ministry here shona, thank you much ;)

  4. Raising children is no easy task. I grew up with a Mom who encouraged me to be alone and figure out how to keep myself busy. I think that's why I enjoy my quiet time now. Gives me time to think and I always find something wonderful to do!

    As for my kids...we did the same. Sure I played with them and took them on adventures in our backyard but I always encouraged them to have their alone time and find something to occupy their time.

    They are teens now and I am very proud of most of their choices!!

    Love your blog as always, Shona!

  5. Interesting and honest.

  6. I love your passion for parenting and creativity. I had to amuse myself, by myself, as a child. Sometimes it hurt, but I became very independent and a really good reader! My grandmother nurtured my creativity and love of fabrics... Somethings your children "toss by the wayside" now, they may pick up years later and say, "My mom got me into this"!

  7. Shona, Thanks so much for sharing this. I've had to learn, as you have, to let my children NOT be like me. I worked so hard with the oldest, trying to help them avoid my mistakes and it made for some very out of balance parenting.

    On the topic of boredom though, I'm with you. I always assure my children that there is plenty to do (meaning chores) and I'd be glad to give them an assignment. They ALWAYS find something else to do. :o) But like you, I jump on any expression of interest and help them pursue it to the fullest. We love pursuing hobbies and it makes for a lot of mess, but it's worth it.

    Great ideas Shona!
    Donna @ Comin' Home

  8. PS. I did a post on Sat. about Jacob and Christian doing some movie making (with Cody and the guys) which perfectly illustrates my point. You would love it and so would Matthew. :o) I'd love for him to see the guys in their 'costumes'.

  9. love your post. i also would get a little beside myself when my kids would say they were bored. i never get bored and can always find something to entertain myself with, even if it is just relaxing in the yard. i feel blessed i find it extrememly interesting how many adults get bored and have no hobby or creative outlet. i think as you get older it is so important to have a creative outlet. the one thing i try to stress to my adult children is find your passion and then live it. we spend so much time filling our time that we never stop to breath and know what it is we want or need to be or do.

  10. My children are all grown up now but i do here this with families with young children around. They dont have hobbies and if they do not read then its only the play station or the computer to play games the whole day long. They do not do anything with their minds or bodies and I do wish this post could be read by younger parents.

  11. WOW, so much input, thanks folks!

    Darla, oh I would be so sad to undo Ballet and add Karate for my girls. But you are right to do it. No point in making them do what is not in their hearts.

    Trudy, thanks for the teen advice. I can just imagine how social networking can be a lure for kids, especially girls. Even now I have to limit the time Matthew is on his computer, he likes to play strategic games, which sound very educational... but still is just a game.

    Donna!ee, oh you are so lucky having the opposite drive, I had a friend when I was 12 like that and I was in awe of her. She was so fun and creative. She moved away to England and it took me 20 years to find the equal again. and you are right, no manual. just lots of prayer and constant analysis!

    scrapwordmom, glad to hear your teens are making good choices, I mean that is what so much of our parenting is going, isn't it?

    fairyrocks, thanks!

    Donna, ha ha, I have recently been using the chore thing as a motivation! I'll go check out your post.

    Paper Pumpkin, that is a great point, one day they could well pick somehting back up! I am always daydreaming about what they will do when they are older. Fun to think about.

    Barbara r-g, you are so right about that. gotta take a moment of non-busyness to actually find out what you are passionate about. For me it was not that easy. I had to take that time.

    Mystica, man kids on playstations thingys or iphones makes me really mad too! It is so mindless. I know we are showing our age, but seriously it is so sad to see. I have resisted any gaming consoles and hand held devices so far, but I feel the tide pulling so strongly. Matthew is allowed 2 hours of computer a day, no more and I even think that is a lot. Fortunately he is an avid reader and my girls, who are not readers are not interested in the computer too much... yet. sigh.

    (I wish blogger let me leave follow up comments to each comment... rather than having to leave this long comment)

    thank you all for weighing in on this topic.

  12. I love this post. Thank you for sharing this. I think it's great that you fully support the things they want to do, and help them to learn about it. That's awesome.

    My younger brother still says he's bored, and I keep encouraging him to try new things, and be productive. Hopefully he'll find something he loves soon.

  13. Anonymous1:39 AM

    Here! Here!
    Children need advocates.
    I am only too happy
    in so many ways,
    like you,
    to be one
    for my one and only.
    Blessings good Mommies!

  14. Thank you for your kind visit and for this inspiring post - I also read your recent wish studio articles and loved what you had to say and share about parenting. Thanks again for the inspiration, Kristin xo

  15. Good post. And there is nothing wrong with, "Go outside and play".

  16. This has been a HUGE topic not only at home, but at the university where I work. I love your perspective and mindfulness regarding your experience and how it guides you in parenting your children.

    I would argue that my experiences of being bored as a child allowed me the time to empty out and provided incentive to motivate myself to find something to do. It seems like you support your kids beautifully in this area by providing suggestions and encouraging exploration. What I see in the university kids is they are still kids. They expect the instructors to entertain them; they show up and have little understanding of their responsibility to be engaged, be part of a dialogue and find how the material matters in their life. Boredom is intolerable, but they seem to believe the solution is the responsibility of someone else.

    When my daughter says she is bored, I point out we are usually bored when we are not paying close enough attention or not participating. She rolls her eyes, but she is discovering learning is an active practice!

    Sorry for my soap box! I hope other parents become as mindful as you and others writing here ... especially in regards to the effect of media upon attention spans. I have seen things marekedly deteriorate in just the past 5 years ...


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