close the gate


As long as it takes

Everyone is in such a hurry. Especially parents. A hurry to get everyone up, dressed, fed and off to school or day care.

They hurry to get to work. Then they hurry to get home, get the kids fed, cleaned up and off to sleep so they can start it all again the next morning.

I have also been finding they are in a hurry to turn those kids into polite, caring, clever, successful and well-educated adults.

Well, here's a news flash for you, parents. It takes as long as it takes.

I'm always in a hurry for some things, too. I am always sewing, creating, cooking, baking and trying to get everything done now.

It all takes time and it almost always takes as long as it takes.

You can no more rush a child to learn something than you can rush a cake to bake.

It helps me to realize this once in a while. I am especially anxious to be healed from my latest malady, Bell's Palsy. Every doctor, every test, everyone who has ever experienced it is telling me the same thing: it takes as long as it takes.

It is a difficult answer to hear but it rings true.

I am one of those people who often try to do the unreasonable, sometimes even the impossible. It is a personal crisis for me to miss a deadline or make anyone wait. I have discovered, however, that some things cannot be hurried if you want them to turn out well ... and growing good adults is one of them.

I have to remind myself (and the parents who trust their children to my care) to breathe; to slow down; sometimes to even lower the bar a bit. Remember laughter, and love and respect, and setting a good example, and modeling proper behavior? These acts are how we “make kids behave.” Attempting to rush this process is a recipe for disaster.

Make a child be polite in a hurry and we forget to be polite to them in the works. What we end up teaching them is blind obedience, which should never be confused with politeness.

“Say please/thank you/sorry right now because I told you to. Not because you feel it in your heart. Stop listening to what your own feelings are telling you and just do as I say!”

We might not be saying those exact words. We don't need to. To them the message is as clear as Crystal Pokémon and even if you don't know who that is, they do.

It is dehumanizing at best and leaves no room for what the child is sensing or thinking. Good manners can only be learned over a long, long time by seeing them being used by those around them. If you want well-mannered children who become behavioral, intellectual adults, then you had better be modeling those qualities yourself and making sure that others with whom your children spend time are the same.

Talk to those little angels about why you would want to say thank you for a gift or a gesture that someone took time to do or make or buy. Let them see and hear you making that phone call to thank someone for making you feel happy in your heart. Show them how expressing thanks can return that happy feeling to the heart of the giver.

Let your own feelings of remorse show when you have behaved badly or lost your temper or whatever. Show them that saying that you’re sorry should come from the heart and can heal more boo-boo's than any Band-Aid ever will.

Good behaviors, manners and attitudes are as catching as the bird flu in a flock of turkeys. Have a respectful attitude toward your children. Don't kowtow to their every whim — that's not respect! Don't treat them as if they know more than you — that's not realistic!  Believe they can understand. Explain in simple language. Include them in the emotional dynamics of your life. Be truthful and be open because truthfulness and openness breeds truth and openness. Manners breed manners — good and bad.    

Want smart-mouthed, sarcastic kids? Watch (and let them watch) shows like “Family Guy.” Come on! You think it's funny and they see you laughing, right? Well, use their logic. They want to see you laughing and happy, so if that's what does it, then that is what they'll do.

As for saying you're sorry because I told you to: that just breeds insincerity, and don't we have enough of that around us everywhere?

With kids and manners and sincerity and even the baking of cakes,

I'll close the gate and tell you that it all just takes as long as it takes.


Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult, I'm Nancy Kraayenhof. ©2015

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