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FUN OR FOE? Away on holiday this past week, I was struck by the ingenuity of my 6 year old niece who turned the tables on her parents by hiding their blackberries in an effort to get them down to the beach. My brother and sister-in-law took this very much in stride and were more than happy to oblige –until later in the day when the blackberry hunt began. Thomas Pink’s book Drive brings this scene with my resourceful niece into focus. Drive is a great, thought provoking read about what motivates us and fulfills us in life; what keeps our souls properly fed and watered. One of the ideas he reflects on is what constitutes work and what differentiates it from not-work. Drawing upon the history of motivation psychology starting in the early 1900s, Pink reasons the boundary between work and play dissolves when we are our most motivated selves. That we are naturally curious beings who like problem solving, feeling competent, purposeful and engaged in the tasks that life presents us. This got me thinking (being a blackberry-work focused aunt). He’s right. But at the same time, work, even when it feels like not-work to us, doesn’t always feel like that to those around us. Especially to our friends and families who want to hang out, have fun together and feel like they matter to us and we to them. While adults are often exhilarated by their work and don’t feel it as such, kids looking on don’t generally have the same experience of their parents’ work. Sure, kids need to understand that bills need to get paid and that happens by their parents going to work. But at the same time, kids’ impatience with their parents’ focus on work teaches us an important lesson. A lesson that most of the parents I know are actually trying to impart to their kids; that it’s important to be sensitive to the feelings and experiences of those around us. So, when my niece pinches and hides her parents’ blackberries, the message she is sending to them is: “this isn’t fun! Fun is to be had with my parents on the beach, not with my parents on their blackberries.” While we could also talk about the importance of my niece needing to cultivate patience, for now…let’s let her off the hook, just for a minute, and put down our blackberries

Parents: When are you fun or a foe?  

Parents are pressed for time and stressed to the max. When does multitasking work for you and work against you in your relationship with yo...