I know it seems like we at SPLS keep returning to this theme: We harm our kids by trying to protect them from obstacles, struggle, disappointment, failures and losses. If we present these tough situations in the right way we will help our children immensely in the long run.
There are times when I look back on my childhood and realize that if I share my experiences I will sound like the old folks who claimed they walked to school two miles every day…barefoot….in the snow… and it was uphill both directions.
At the risk of sounding like a caricature, let me share one brief life experience.
I told my parents I wanted to play Little League baseball. I was probably in fifth grade. Other kids, of course had started much earlier, so I would be behind the curve, so to speak. They said OK but I had to do the leg work. Teams were organized around the local elementary schools. However, when I went to the first practice for the school one block from my home I was told there were no open places. If I wanted to play, there was a team needing players at a neighboring school two miles away.
About once a year over my 40+ years leading schools, someone will share the following insight:
“If you believe half of what your child says happens at school, I will only believe half of what he says happens at home.” While I have never been particularly fond of the snarky sentiment, I think it does remind us that kids share things from their perspective. While it may not be intentionally wrong it is seen through very self-focused eyes. That is just natural.
But the end result of taking what a child says as complete and accurate can often produce hurt feelings and misunderstandings or worse.
Several years ago at another school, I had a teacher on staff who was one of the most diligent, prepared, efficient teachers I had ever worked with. Some folks had problems with the teacher’s personality. That could be understood and we worked on building strong relationships.