A post on facebook prompted me to write this article. It said, “I’d love to see a bumper sticker that says, Proud Parent of an Absolutely Average Student”. It got me thinking how we use school success as a major factor in coming to conclusions about our kids and attaching labels to children. A child is often labeled ADHD based on a series of behaviors. A student is considered above average , average, or below average or learning disabled based highly on test scores and recalling information.
What if our school success really has little to do with the person we truly are? I think we all know that there is much more to a person than their school grades yet we have gotten so caught up in labeling kids based on their grades, their success in sports or some other activity that they are successful in and we miss who they really are. I have worked with many kids who have difficulty in school yet they are some of the most brilliant, caring, kind, creative, and aware people I have ever met.
What will it take for us to get away from judging others based on some reality of success we have created and allow us to see who each person truly is?
How much are we missing who a kid is with all of the labels? When my son graduated high school he told me that he felt like teachers started treating him like he was stupid when he was diagnosed with ADD. I am in no way blaming any teachers for this but rather sharing his perception of his label. Although he had difficulty functioning in the parameters of school, he is intelligent, very creative, and he thinks outside the box.
We often come to conclusions and decisions about our kids based on beliefs and point of views we have or our culture has developed and then we try to fit our child into one of those boxes. It may be that our community values high level academics or another community values sports or the arts. If our child doesn’t fit into that mold then we believe that have a problem or they may feel not good enough.
So what would it take for each one of us to truly know who our child is? Ask questions! The questions should be questions that create a new awareness. For example, rather than deciding your child must play soccer because that’s what kids in your community do, you can ask the child what activity they would like to participate in. If they are not performing well in school you could ask, “what would it take for this to change?” These questions to do not have an answer attached. They are more about opening the door to a knowing or awareness of what would truly work for your child. Questions empower and answers dis-empower. Answers close the door to other possibilities while questions open up possibilities.
I worked with a group of football players and I asked them, “how much of what you do with your life is because of what you think you are supposed to do and how much of your life is about what you choose to do?” Before the boys even said anything you could sense the awareness that came up with that question. It was like a big sigh. They did not feel like they had choice in their lives at all. They thought they had to live up to society’s expectations, parents, peers, and teacher’s expectations. How much does that allow them to be who they truly are or to choose what works for them and what would create the greatest joy and fulfillment in life.
What if life should be more about what makes us joyful, happy, and excited? What if we can create so much more from that space of being. What if everything we desire for our children can show up when we allow them to make choices in their lives, even ones that don’t always work out to their advantage. What if that is what empowers them to choose differently the next time and to create a life that is greater? What if them being who they truly be will create a life for them that is beyond our wildest imagination?