We are in Malaga, Spain, looking for a breakfast cafe after receiving our two year spanish residence extension from the Ayuntamiento (City Council).
The streets are busy even on a Monday morning and our kids are bobbing and weaving between all the people. This prompts Michele and I to ask the kids what they are doing and to please stop as it's hard to constantly keep track of them. To which they both replied "we are forward planning".
This stomps us both, and we had to ask what they meant.
"See mom, we planning our route so that we dont bump into anyone, we are forward planning, if you dont forward plan someone is just going to walk into you, and thats just dumb".
We make it to the cafe without any collisions and continue our conversation about forward planning with our kiddos, "so why don't you forward plan more at home", Michele asks.
"Because you guys have already planned out what needs to be done" comes the reply and the light bulb moment for Michele and I.
Here are a few take-aways that we took from the conversation.
- Your kids are smarter than you think, you just have to give them the space to "forward plan" for themselves. Ask them to plan for a journey or what they think they will need when they get somewhere.
- If you are constantly "forward planning" for them they will not think for themselves and will still be living with you in the basement at 35 (this is true for adults as well). We now make it a habit to gently ask questions like, do you think that shoes will be best for the hike, do you think you would need water for football practice, would you like to swim when we get to the beach?
- Constructive adversity is a good thing and necessary for kids to use their own independent thought.
Our kids are 8 and 11 years old, and yes I'm proud that they get the concept of forward planning to make sure that they / we are ready for what might happen in the future.
It's by letting kids use their imagination that these concepts naturally develop. I should not be, but still am surprised by the pure wisdom that comes from kids, if only adults would not lose this type of imaginative thought as we got older. The loss of this imaginative thought makes us, dare I say it "less wise", “more dumb”, and rigid in our thinking, in fact, we put ourselves in that "box" other people are in that we like to talk about.
I'm not saying that most adults don't plan, we definitely do and it is expected that you do, you're an adult after all!
I'm saying that we lose the imaginative thought that helps us to “forward plan” with imagination to overcome the obstacles that we perceive are in our way.
Here is a good example that we hear all the time; I want to travel but now I've had kids and it is not possible?
What? I have news for you, millions of families do it all the time for extended periods of time, you are not that special that you can’t.
The same applies to other areas, work, starting a business, changing careers etc.
All it takes is a little “forward planning” and a healthy dollop or imaginative thought.