So last week a story on Facebook came through my newsfeed, entitled The Day I Stopped Saying “Hurry Up’’, by Rachel Macy Stafford. The story has gone viral and I am not sure why. The mother in the story, namely the author, discusses how her daughter taught her to appreciate the little things in life. Stopping to breathe in fresh air every day. Stopping to examine everything out in nature. Teaching her to slow down and enjoy all that life has to offer. Every day. All the time.
In an ideal world, being able to take our time to do absolutely everything sounds heavenly. And not having to rush our kids or as I say move them along, even better. And sure it would be nice to be able to take our sweet time to get everywhere. But let’s face it, this is not always realistic.
Let’s get back to the real world now. While I agree that we all need reminders to slow down and to smell the roses a little bit more, the examples cited by the author are a little extreme. Even for the best of us who love our children and try to spend as much time as possible with them. Even for all us parents who encourage independence, self-expression and creativity in our children. The author described herself as a ‘bully’ who pushed her child to extremes when her daughter simply wanted to enjoy life.
While it would be nice to allot time for your child to buckle their stuffed animal into a car seat each time they ride in the car, or have them insist on picking out a purse and matching a glittery tiara as you are trying to get the family out into the car, sometimes parents just need to say, “Too bad. You have run out of time.”
The author states that she will no longer say, “We don’t have time for this,” because that is basically saying, “We don’t have time to live.” Please. It is precisely because we must live and move on and think of others in addition to ourselves that forces us to keep things moving along.
And as much as we would like to examine the breeze rustling through the trees each time we go outside, we have obligations. As parents, we have obligations to a lot of people. Our children (if we have more than one), our partners, our work, colleagues, our immediate family, our friends, and god forbid to ourselves.
Whatever happened to teaching our kids responsibility? Organization? In anticipation of leaving at 6 PM to meet another family at a restaurant, is it not realistic to have prepped your kids so that they can have their purse and crown ready to wear, an in turn avoid holding up the entire family?
As a parent, it is our job to help teach our kids to enjoy and appreciate the little things. But it is equally our job to teach our kids about real life and the consequences for their behavior.
When you make commitments to others, it is not alright to show up 20 minutes late because you were too busy smelling the roses. Enough time needs to be allotted for all of the above. And I strongly believe as a parent, as well as a therapist, that teaching our children to own their behavior and learn compassion for others and others’ time is equally as important as spending time enjoying the little things.
So while I agree that we are all guilty of living life too quickly and not enjoying what is right in front of us, and we all need to put our screens down for a little while so as to focus more on what matters, let’s not forget our manners. Let’s not forget our obligations to others, and our responsibilities to them. Especially the promises that we as parents make to our children to nurture and to help prepare them for the real world.
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