A year ago, we moved to a new house in the center of our neighborhood. Located on one of the main roads, it’s a perfect spot to watch the world go by.
In addition to offering dozens of opportunities to connect with neighbors, it’s also a really interesting place to learn about the importance of clarity.
Our house is near the neighborhood pool, which means we get to see kids ride their bikes as they head for a summer swim. A few weeks ago, I realized something about the gangs of riders that were passing my house. Most of them didn’t have helmets on. That’s not surprising at all, kids often don’t wear their helmets all the time. What was surprising is how many of them had the helmets with them.
The kids haven’t forgotten their helmets at home. They haven’t left them at a friend’s house. They haven’t lost them.
No, the helmets are usually in a basket behind their seat or in their arms.
Because clarity matters.
The reason the kids are carrying but not wearing their helmets is that back at home, a mom said, “Make sure you bring your helmet if you go to the pool!”
She meant “wear” but “bring” isn’t exactly wear. It can also mean carry or possess or simply “have.” Bring is too fuzzy, too poorly defined, too unclear.
Is that a huge act of disobedience? Not really. Did anyone in my generation ever wear a helmet growing up? Not really. Does it matter though? It does.
As a parent, it’s your job to speak with clarity. Not because your kids will take advantage of you all the time, but because it helps set boundaries. It helps clearly communicate expectations. It makes obeying a lot easier. Clarity is a gift you give your kids and yourself.
“Wear and buckle your helmet.”
That’s not a complicated sentence, but it is a clear one.
Note that I added “buckle” because just wearing it loosely doesn’t really do it either.
Kids are amazing, but they’re also natural lawyers. If you leave a loophole, they’ll find it.
Aim for clarity as often as you can.