One challenge of raising children is teaching them about a time and a place for various behaviors. We teach this as part of helping a child grow up and it is just one of many things to learn. An important aspect of this teaching is that there are times when we have more freedom than others. There are activities and events in our lives where we should embrace the “time and place” mentality to bring balance to our existence.
Freedom of Play
An example of this concept that should be familiar to everyone is the idea of playtime. We tell our children to “go play outside” because they need exercise. However, we also want them to burn off some of their energy so they are not bouncing off the walls. Schools have recess time for the same reason. We all know that we need time during our day to exercise and act like a child. These times keep us refreshed. We lose the childish behavior times of our life as we get older, but maybe adding some time to act like a child helps keep you young.
I know of new parents in their late thirties and forties that suddenly seem to have a younger approach to life. Of course, this shows up after that first three to six months of sleepless nights. In particular, it seems that having a toddler in the house brings a little youth (and exhaustion) to everyone around. We can not play all the time so we should emphasize that play time should be respected and enjoyed. Teach the freedom of play and provide examples in your recreational time and vacations. When you take time off, do so completely.
Freedom of Sports
Even in the modern world of participation trophies and a desire for everyone to be a winner, the competitive spirit still exists. This is a healthy attitude to have and one we admire even when we don’t want to admit it. Life has challenges and those that face those challenges are going to be more successful. This is not rocket science, it is just logical. Challenges are to be accepted and overcome, not seen and waited out. Teach children that sports and other competitive arenas allow them the freedom to push themselves to their limits and beyond. There is a freedom in being able to celebrate a win while knowing that the opposing team is hurting from the loss. It may be seen as a darker part of our nature, but maybe it is good to have that catharsis.
A hockey coach I worked with a few years ago summed this up perfectly before a game. He told the boys to go out there, play hard, and to not be afraid to be physical. He said that there are few avenues left for boys to be boys without being looked down upon and they should embrace the moments they have on the ice. Teen-aged boys have hormones and energy to burn no matter how much we try to “domesticate” them. So he was right, those boys had the freedom of some time to go out and be as aggressive as they wanted. They would get cheered for those actions and not condemned. Thus, enjoy it while it lasts.
Freedom of Focus
The flip side to all of this is the freedom we get in grave and somber situations. When the time comes for study and reflection we have opportunities to do so without distraction. There is a freedom in being able to sit in a class and concentrate without others running around and causing a disturbance. We define these times and activities to learn more efficiently and also to respect situations and events.
We have a moment of silence to show respect to those we lost or pay homage to things in the world greater than us. There are quiet times and places where we can think through ideas. Teach that these times should be respected and embraced as well. All work and no play may make Johnny a dull boy. However, all play and no work do not lead to a full life either. We all seem to get the idea of living a balanced life and we need to teach that the balance includes there being a time and place for everything.
The concept of a time and a place for everything is one that should be taught in a positive light. The idea is not to restrict us from what we want to do. Instead, it is to give us the freedom to enjoy our activities at the proper time and place.