Family Ministry and Kid's Activities

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Puritan Board Freshman
Greetings all! New guy here. Actually, I’ve been a member since February, but haven’t posted anything, just read posts from time to time. But, I’m struggling with something currently, that I wanted to offer up for discussion, and see how others have handled it.

My wife wants my unconverted, 14 year old, home schooled daughter, to join a year round swim team. (She’s been taking swim lessons since she was 5, so she’s getting quite good, and enjoys it.). My wife is looking at this as a means of giving our daughter something to occupy her free time, to further develop an area she enjoys, and provide another social outlet (she's extremely social). I understand her intent, and see the value in it. Being on the team would involve training every week (any 3 days, M-F), and periodic swim competitions.

My concern is that this will interfere with parental ministry to her and will begin the crazy cycle, where we become slaves to kids activities. I’m still considering the ultimate decision, and on paper it looks like it can be worked around and won’t interfere with family worship or church attendance, at this time. (Though I also know that we are just looking at paper schedules, which are an estimate of time, and actual life has a tendency to take longer that we plan.)

My wife understands and agrees that family worship and church attendance are show stoppers, and if an activity is going to interfere, then we will not do it. However, we have two more kids coming behind her, and if I let her do this, how can I limit the other kids?

Maybe I'm over thinking this part, or maybe I'm just being resistant to change, but I also fear that due to the swim team's rather aggressive schedule, and it’s going to limit my exposure to my daughter, and disrupt the family unity (she will eat dinner by herself earlier or later than the rest of the family on swim nights). During the week, my time is limited. After work, dinner, and family worship, I have about 1 ½ hours of time to deal with everything else.

So, how have others handled the balance between family life, ministry and worship, and kid’s activities?


Puritanboard Commissioner
Let's start here:

My wife wants
In fact, the whole post is about your wife driving this. Not a single word about your daughter wanting this kind of lifestyle for herself.

And since your daughter is 14 and hasn't made a profession of faith ("unconverted, 14 year old"), perhaps she should be spending time in Christian fellowship outside the family instead of swimming laps .


Puritan Board Graduate
When we had our daughter counseling with CCEF ( birth mother and adoption issues, nothing like your situation) one of the things we learned was that right around age 15/16, maybe 14, kids as part of normal development start to pull away from parents in becoming an individual who thinks for themself, believes for themself, etc. The worst rebellion I have ever seen in my Christian circles is parents who tried to hold on too tight at that age (family time, family time, family time at age 16-17) and didn't let them start in at least small ways to become independent. In the old days they often married at 17 or 18.

So that is one factor. Another consideration pro the swim team is that many parents find that their best times talking to teens is alone with them in the car. Somehow driving in the passenger seat with nothing else to do lends itself to conversation. You may find that you will have far more impact into her life driving and talking, than in a family worship with younger siblings where she will not open up her soul as much. Maybe, as obviously I don't know the daughter, and maybe the younger kids need to ride along.

It isn't an irrevocable decision. You just tell her right up front that the team hours could change, they could start swim meets on Sundays, etc etc etc, and this has to be a temporary trial that could end. Set a time on it, like say try it out for X number of months.

I swim laps at a YMCA. I love it. The exercise is wonderful and healthy and I get to witness to all sorts of people and my Y has many Christians.

One thing I would consider (not sure of age requirements) is the three day all day and overnight life guard training program most of the YMCAs do in May or June. After that they are certified to life guard at a summer camp, or at a pool (one of our kids life guarded part time at the Y in high school, and also at a day camp). If she goes further and trains to be a swim teacher she can pick up more part time jobs. This is a chance to train her for some income producing work.

She is rapidly approaching the developmental age to become an adult if she isn't there already, so frankly I think if you let go, devote yourself to prayer, and let her have a bit of a life she may end up with the Lord a lot quicker than tying her down to family devotions and dinner. Just my opinion.


Staff member

My daughter got involved in ballet at age 5. She loved it. She continued with it through her teenage years. She did not profess faith in Christ until she was 12. It was easy to get caught up in the seemingly endless rehearsals and performances. My conviction of the Lord's Day was more pragmatic during the early years of her involvement in ballet. I made a lot of compromises. I wish I had those years back. If I had it to do over again I would not have refused to allow her to participate in ballet, but I would have drawn firm boundaries around the Lord's Day and family time. Thankfully, God displayed grace in spite of my compromises on the Lord's Day, but tempting God is not a wise thing.

I want to add one other thing that has nothing at all to do with your daughter's desire to join the swim team. Ever since my daughter was a young girl I always took her on Daddy-Daughter dates. Her favorite place was the park, and then a visit to Friendly's. As she got older the venue changed. I told her that no subject was off limits; she could talk to me about whatever was on her mind. She is 26 now and not yet married, and we still have our Daddy-Daughter dates. If the Lord brings a godly man into her life, I know those Daddy-Daughter dates will be less frequent, so I thank God that we still have them. I know your schedule is hectic, but I encourage you to look for those moments where you can.

God bless you.

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
At age 14, it may be time to let your daughter pursue more interests outside the house. If you don't, she could just end up frustrated or angry. So if the swim team is a reasonably safe environment that still allows your family to continue doing the most important things together, you might consider that a good way for your daughter to start spreading her wings a bit.

It's hard to loosen our grip on our kids, but when they reach that age we have to let go somewhere. My wife and I have tried to steer ours into wholesome and worthwhile activities, realizing that we can't simply say no to everything even though that's our gut reaction much of the time.
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