You Just Have To!

One thing adults love to say to kids is “Well, too bad; there are some things you just have to do.”  If you watch a kid’s face when someone’s delivering that line, you’ll know right away how many times they’ve heard this before.  In most cases, LOTS.  You’ll also get a sense of how inspired they are to act as a result of it.  In most cases, NOT PARTICULARLY.

It’s something we say to each other, as adults too, and it’s implied in much of what we do.  Because, of course, we heard it all the time back when we, the present-day adults, were kids.  So we take it as truth, and in good conscience, we pass it on.  We want kids to be ready for the real world.  And it helps us feel as though life is supposed to be as much of a drag as it can feel like when our days are full of things we’re doing because we think we just have to.

But it’s TRUE isn’t it?  There are things we just have to do.  Don’t worry; I’m not going to argue that it’s not true.  I’m going to argue that it’s incomplete.  On its own, the statement is in fact not true.  You don’t actually have to do anything.  You have to do some things if you want a specific outcome or you want to avoid a specific outcome. For example, nobody actually has to do the dishes. You might have to do the dishes if you don’t want to throw away all the ones you’ve used and buy new ones. Or you don’t want to cause a rift between yourself and a loved one.  Or you have a job as a dishwasher and you want to get paid at the end of the week.  So it would be more accurate to say “There are some things you just have to do if…” Or “There are some things you just have to do unless…”

What’s tough is that as soon as you decide you’re going to make it a point to complete the sentence, you start to see how much you’re insisting upon (from yourself and others, kids included) that demands deeper consideration of how the sentence should end.  Don’t worry, though.  There’s gold at the other end; if you commit to inquiring into why/if you have to do things, and why you actually insist on what you insist on for others, you’ll find that a lot of the fight falls away. Kids, in particular, will perk right up.  They can hear the difference between things we say on auto pilot and things we say because we’ve considered them and determined that they have some value.

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