What does your annual pass have to do with counseling?  Tons!

There are about 1 million Disneyland annual pass holders and apparently it is becoming a problem for the Magical Kingdom.  More importantly, is having an annual pass really more of a benefit or a hindrance to you?

I will admit, I’ve had an annual pass to Universal Studios, Disneyland, and currently to Knott’s Berry Farm and yes, it feels great knowing that at any whim, I can get up and go to a theme park. I just flash my V.I.P. badge and suddenly, I’m getting discounts on hats, toys, trinkets, and drinks. It almost makes me feel like I own the place. Oh, the fuzzy feelings!

So, what’s the problem? Here’s three:

1. Promotes how lazy you really are

Wow! You just wanted to show your kids a fun time! Really?

A fun time can be playing hide-and-seek, hiking, biking, or playing in the yard. Why don’t you be creative and explore other possibilities? Heck, you could even bond with your kids by playing video games!

Scientists Say Child’s Play Helps Build A Better Brain. Free play is one of the greatest benefits to a child’s growth. To quote Dr. Gray in this article:

“Since about 1955 … children’s free play has been continually declining, at least partly because adults have exerted ever-increasing control over children’s activities,”

The truth of the matter is your children need free play where they’re allowed to roam around freely. This is where they learn the most and are able to test the boundaries of life. They will be able to freely find themselves; what they like and don’t like. They learn the rules of life, like the rules of gravity, and it’s consequences. Emotions are tested along with learning how to give and receive through free play which prepares them for life.

I understand that you may be tired from work and just want to relax so you don’t have to think about planning something different on the weekends, but allowing that to be the norm is simply unhealthy.  More importantly, that begs the question; are the passes for your kids enjoyment or your pass from being a parent?

2. Tolerance to expectations

We all have certain expectations and many of us have unrealistic expectations.

Imagine eating your favorite food. You may feel a little excited because you love it and you are going to indulge in it. Now, imagine eating your favorite food every single day. Would you have the same excitement you did when you ate it the first time? No way! This is because your tolerance for it drops. There was a time when servants were fed lobster so much that they couldn’t tolerate any more lobster. Imagine that! Again, even the tolerance to what is considered fine dining can change.

Just the way that our tolerance for food can change, our tolerance for fun will change too. Remember going on your first roller coaster? If you were young, maybe it felt scary, but also exciting. As you grew up or returned to the ride another time, it seemed less scary and less exciting. You may even recall not screaming as much and eventually, bored. Now, imagine, because you can go to your theme park anytime with your annual pass, going on the same rides week after week. The rides will no longer be fun and the Magical Kingdom can become the Annoying Kingdom.

This is a constant battle heard in marriage counseling sessions. Couples are tormented because their children are ungrateful and expect more. But let’s be honest, you created that monster! (Veruca Salt, anyone?)

Certainly, your expectations will change and the excitement you once felt will begin to be replaced with a numbness if you were to overdo it.

3. Full With Emptiness

There’s a direct correlation between laziness and sadness. So even if you went to the “happiest place on earth” everyday, you would just be promoting a lazy lifestyle while guiding your kids the path to being unhappy and ungrateful. That annual pass can give you momentary pleasure, but true joy will never be found through material things. They will be found in your experience and connection to God, and then your close ones. Everything else will truly rust. bust, or gather dust.

Like I said before, I’ve owned many annual passes and currently own one, so I’m not against it. I’ve loved theme parks since I was a child and still feel childlike the moment I enter the gates.

This is just to spark thought and for you (and I) to really reflect on why we need an annual pass. Things can be very fun, but our insatiable appetite will always be left wanting more. So the real question may be Do you have the annual pass or does the annual pass have you?

Gary Aris

-N.C.C.A. Professional Clinical Member -Ordained Minister, Lighthouse of Faith Christian Fellowship -N.C.C.A. Certified Temperament Counselor -N.C.C.A. Licensed Pastoral Counselor


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