Shortcuts are good, right? We can get to our destinations faster, reach our goals with speed, and mark one more thing off of our lists. But what if in the process of taking shortcuts we teach our kids a dangerous approach to life? While there might be an app for just about everything, instant gratification and shortcuts can lead to children who might get things done, but have no idea why they did them. Shortcuts are nice for paths through the woods, but sometimes we just need to show our children the long way so that they have time to see on which road they are travelling.
Dangerous Shortcuts We Allow Our Kids to Take
(And sometimes go along for the ride, too.)
I’m not referring to the path from your house to the park, or just sweeping around the rug instead of shaking out the rug and getting rid of the hidden dust-bunnies beneath. I am referring to those things in life that for whatever reason (often technology), we have developed shortcuts to save time, energy, and money. These are all good things to save, but the danger is that our kids aren’t understanding some key foundational components in life because they just download an app instead. Some of the shortcuts are just not safe, either.
- Cell Phone Numbers – I recently had the frightening realization that without my cell phone contact list, I could not tell you the phone numbers of my children’s cell phones, and I doubt they could do the same for me. It is time to get back to memorizing a few of those important phone numbers by heart for the inevitable time when technology fails.
- Manic Meals – No wonder children in America are facing an obesity epidemic. We are taking shortcuts with the very things that are supposed to be sustaining them and building healthy people – their diets. I admit I’ve hit a drive thru more than once because it would “save time” – but what are the long-term costs to our kids? Consider bulk preparations of meals in advance to help rescue you from falling into this trap. My husband does a great job of this each week, taking frozen veggies and combining them with seasonings and chicken and storing them for his workday lunches. Pack healthy snacks ahead of time to diminish the likelihood that you will take the drive thru or vending machine shortcut with your kids.
- Family Time – If you consider “family time” to be the hours you spend each week commuting together, be careful you aren’t trading in real quality time. Driving together can be a great way to have quiet moments to talk, but make a concerted effort to turn off the tunes and get a real conversation going. Sitting in front of the television together as each family member randomly does homework, checks email, and texts friends doesn’t qualify, either. Family time needs to be real, dedicated time – and no time for shortcuts.
- Academics – There is the age-old debate over whether or not kids should use calculators to solve those unending long division problems. True – so many things in life are now automated and the need is decreasing for these skills on demand. Technology advances give our kids tools, such as calculators, that enhance learning. An interesting study even makes the case for why our kids should use calculators at all grade levels. However, we need to be absolutely certain our children understand the basic concepts before we let them utilize these types of shortcuts.
- Manners – TIA for not allowing your child to use abbreviations and codes for communicating with me, even if it is faster. I miss the days when kids used full and complete sentences, void of any confusing acronyms. Encourage your kids to write thank you letters, put away the cell phone when conversing with people, and stop running through their days like their pants are on fire and they can’t stop to acknowledge their family, neighbors, or even peers. It might be faster and more productive to move through life with lightning speed, but sometimes the road itself is more important than the time it takes us to cross the finish line.
I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. – Robert Frost