But first, my definition of Strategic Boredom. Strategic Boredom consists in wise parents giving their children times when there is nothing pre-arranged to entertain them, including mindless, pre-fab, technological distractions.
And now for the reasons for Strategic Boredom!
Being bored forces us to think. When we are truly bored, whatever is going on around us doesn’t hold our interest. Our thoughts fly off to other things. This leads to daydreaming, planning, musing, in short – to actually using our brains. When we are fully entertained or distracted and have every minute filled with planned activities, there is little time for in-depth thinking.
Being bored gives us time to hear God. The Bible tells us that we must “be still” to hear God, that His is a “still, small voice.” When we are busy all the time, racing from one activity to another, it is tough to hear God above the cacophony. There’s a reason that Bible study time is also called “quiet time.” We must have time with no distractions to truly hear His voice.
Being bored engenders creativity. Most people hate boredom. Even lazy people still want to be entertained. So boredom causes people to find some entertainment – and this often leads to creativity! If a child has no TV, internet, video games or smartphones to play with, he has to come up with his own entertainment. Thus (after the obligatory whining which you should pleasantly and firmly cut off) he must turn to books, projects, games, something of his own invention to occupy him. Children today (even homeschooled children) very rarely have time for developing creativity because their parents never let them get bored.
Being bored creates initiative. If you allow your child to be bored occasionally instead of constantly entertaining him, he will have to come up with ideas for entertainment all by himself. Of course, a wise parent will have provided items in the house that he can latch onto for entertainment (such a books, raw materials for crafts, sports equipment, etc.). But it is up to the child to decide himself what to do about his boredom. I am often saddened by watching today’s children (even homeschooled children) when confronted with a chance to take initiative. They often simply sit back and wait for someone to tell them what to do – because that’s all they know. They have never had to exert their ingenuity to occupy their time.
Boredom can lead to fun and fascinating hobbies. During the Strategic Boredom times planned in our childhood by our wise parents, my sister and I started digging into the how-to books on the shelf. One time, we pulled out a book on crocheting. Mom had already given us yarn and taught us some basic stitches. But it was during periods of Strategic Boredom that we actually got enthused about crocheting real projects. This led to us attempting more and more complex crocheting projects as we grew older. And finally, it led to us winning “Best of Show” ribbons at one of the largest American county fairs for our crocheting! We can tell similar stories about our other many hobbies and skills (including skills we now use to support ourselves). Most of them were developed during Strategic Boredom times in our childhood.
Boredom prepares you for real life. Is there an adult in the world today who never experiences boredom? I doubt it. Perhaps it’s a routine chore every day that gets boring, or a task at work that becomes tedious. Maybe it’s a dull evening at home, or a long commute to work. Whatever the case, boredom is unavoidable and happens to everyone.
A person who has been prepared in childhood to deal properly with boredom is much safer from temptations that the person who has been constantly entertained faces. He will be less likely to give in to time-wasters like TV and endless video games or damaging activities like online porn or shopping addictions. The children trained by Strategic Boredom will have well-developed character muscles that help them take initiative, think, be creative, try new things… or simply sit still and listen to God’s voice.
But it all starts with Strategic Boredom!
Written by Heather Sheen
Written by Heather Sheen