WARNING: Rant Alert!
Do you feel as though you spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about whether you’re “getting it right” as a parent? I know I do.
I look around enviably at the other parents at the school gate. They all seem to be totally relaxed and confident in their efforts; naturals for want of a better word. Me, on the other hand, I often find myself feeling like an imposter. A complete phoney. Someone who didn’t attend the parenting course, missed out on the practical, didn’t sit let alone pass any of the exams and yet, somehow, I still managed to get the job of “parent” without a clue as to how to actually do it.
Sometimes I wonder whether we simply know too much these days – and by “we” I mean the royal we as in everyone.
Kids can’t even sneeze these days without some “expert”, or rank amateur that’s listened to an “expert”, making some judgement as to it being some latent reaction to sleep deprivation brought on by the child’s stress from lack of stimulation at the tender age of six months, three days, twenty-three hours and forty-three minutes IN THE WOMB.
Personally, I suspect it’s because the kid’s got a bit of dust stuck up his or her nose!
It’s not that I don’t think the “experts” aren’t, well… “experts”. It’s more a concern that we are ALL too quick and eager to stick labels on our kids. There’s this expectation that they should tread this SAME, narrow path towards adulthood through school; all learning the same things, writing in the same way, sitting still and listening to this or that even if it holds no interest for them. Let’s be real here, what ADULT sits really still and attentively listens to something that bores the crap out of them?
Because nowadays we “know” so much about how to help children with extreme difficulties, if at any time a child marginally stumbles off this pre-planned path, rather than waiting for them to find their way back naturally, we eagerly jump in and guide them back and very probably end up doing more damage by interfering.
It’s not that I don’t believe there’s a great deal to be gained from “knowledge”. What I suspect, is that many of today’s “problems” that children apparently suffer from aren’t actually the kids’ problems – they’re society’s.
Society is constantly measuring kids’ behaviour, abilities, developmental progress, etc., to be sure they fit within “norms”. If they’re not within the “norm”, they’re immediately labeled with a “problem”. This system of measurement aims to fit all kids at each stage of their development into a nice, neat little drawer. What it doesn’t seem to realise however, is that although a child may not fit the “typical” drawer this week, the chances are, if they are left to develop naturally, they’ll fit in it next month or may just be better off in a different drawer.
Society has decided that we all need to have the same “basic” level of education. We aren’t all the same and yet the school system, etc., want us all to learn the same material, in the same way to reach the same level or achieve the same A or B “grades” – dream on! This is what’s best for the school, the school’s budget and the governmental education budget.
We put a huge amount of effort into identifying and “curing” kids’ “problems” these days, what would happen if we put as much effort into letting kids be individuals and allowed them to learn about what interests them? Strengthening their strengths rather than continually trying to eliminate their weakness, surely makes more sense.
To repeat, I’m not an advocate of going back and there are extreme cases that require intervention but looking back to before children had all these “problems”, did kids just roll over and die or did they simply learn to use the strengths they had to become effective, functioning adults – it’s the latter me finks!
I’m super-conscious that there are “problems” and children with severe difficulties. My question is for the majority rather than the extreme few. Are these really our children’s “problems” or things created by society, i.e., the chemical enhanced foods we feed them, the TV programmes we allow them to watch and violent video games they play or the way we educate them? It’s become easier to pin a label on the kids and “blame” them rather than face reality.
Perhaps the solution is to redirect our efforts and resolve “society’s” issues rather that the individual child’s – but then I suppose that wouldn’t be quite so financially lucrative would it?
Rather than driving our kids so regimentally towards adulthood maybe we should let them lead for a while so they strengthen their strengths rather than being weak impersonations of what society things they “ought” to be – within boundaries of course!