STOP LYING TO YOUR CHILDREN

Slate has a new parenting advice blog. In a recent post, a mother wonders…

“Should I Tell My Daughter About Her Dyslexia?”

She explains “I don’t want her to feel different, but does she have the right to know why she struggles where others don’t?”

Obviously, the question enraged me. But what enrages me, even more, is that it’s 2019, and parents are still wondering whether to treat their children as human beings.

So, as a person with very little patience for this kind of bullshit (my patience goes exactly where it should–to children, all of them, any age, all the time) I want the opportunity to answer it my way.

LADY, OH MY GOD, WHAT THE FUCK? Should I tell my daughter she has dyslexia?? Does she have the right to know?? First, fuck you. Second, she already knows. Your daughter knows she has Dyslexia, she just doesn’t know what it’s called because you are holding her hostage from her own reality. She is eight years old! Her problem isn’t that she has learning disabilities; her problem is you.

PARENTS! PLEASE, CAN I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION! Your children are human beings. You are afraid to fuck them up so you withhold the truth of who they are from them, and you withhold the truth of the world. You want them to continue being wholesome, innocent creatures, and you’re afraid that by telling them the truth you will corrupt them. The truth doesn’t corrupt them. Lying corrupts them. By not telling them what’s going on, ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY KNOW SOMETHING IS GOING ON, you are lying to them.

We protect our children, not by hiding the world from them, but by teaching them how to handle each hardship the world hands us. You want to raise healthy, strong, vibrant children and you want them to one day leave the bubble you have created for them and thrive, but for some reason, you don’t want to teach them how to face adversity and grow. You say you’re parenting, you insist that you’re a good parent, but parenting is teaching your children life-skills. It’s showing your children who they are, and who the world is, and then modeling for them how to manage these truths. Parenting is teaching your children to live independently in this world without you.

So please, I beg of you, do not coddle your children in this way. Do not hold them hostage to the world by keeping who they are from them. My entire life I was tested. Those results were withheld from me, and when I asked what was wrong with me, I was told I was a “slow learner,” and to this day, in my 40’s, I have trouble believing anything else. But I am not a “slow learner.” No one is a “slow learner.” The paradigm that exists to teach children is a one-size-fits-all model, and I am not “all.” I am me, and I learn through experience, not by sitting in a chair and listening to a teacher who is clearly bored by having to recite the same shit every day.

“Miss Sixty Jr Adv, Catalogue” by D-image studio is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 

What was wrong with me was that I had a panic disorder, and I didn’t learn that fact until I was 25 years old. If at 8 years old, someone had told me what was wrong with me and had helped me learn how to manage it, I would not have suffered unnecessarily for a majority of my life.

So, my eight-year-old self is begging all of you to be honest with your kids. Tell them who they are, because they already know, they just don’t know what it’s called.

(here’s the original post from SLATE: https://slate.com/human-interest/2019/05/when-to-tell-children-about-disability-care-and-feeding.html)

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RAISE THE CHILD YOU HAVE & NOT THE CHILD YOU WANT.

So many people raise their children in opposition to how they were raised. They decide in advance what they will do differently, how their methods will ensure that what happened to them won’t happen to their own child. This is understandable on many levels, but it’s not practical, and more importantly, it’s not fair. You can’t base the parenting choices you make on the choices your parents made when they raised you. I mean, you can. Go for it, but you’ll simply be perpetuating the very cycle of parenting styles you are hoping to break. When you have a child, you don’t give birth to a mini-version of yourself. Certainly, your child might LOOK like a mini-you, but internally, they are their own person, and it’s that person that needs to be raised.

I don’t have children, but I have read more parenting books than most parents. And I’ve done this because I was a panicked-disordered little kid who needed to be raised differently than I was–but how? Parenting books have told me, and I’ve been able to understand what I needed versus what I got. Knowing this has taught me the reasons for some of my disabling fears, and in understanding what I got vs what I needed has been incredibly valuable for recognizing why I am the way I am, and how I can teach myself the things I never learned. It’s also taught me about the fundamental mistakes that parents make and the most fundamental mistake is this:

Parents so often raise the child they want, and not the child they have.

Little Panicker dancing

Here’s what that looks like. Your child is struggling in school. She’s getting bad grades. You ask her whether she can see the board, hear the teacher. She says yes, but just in case, you take her to the eye doctor, and to an audiologist. When everything comes back all clear, you take her for an educational assessment. You’re told she has a learning disability, and so you meet with her teachers to inform them, sit with her while she does her homework, get her a tutor, ask if she can work one-on-one with the teacher after class. These feel like the right things to do, but each one of these efforts has one thing in common–YOU. You are worried. You don’t want your kid to do poorly. You want your kid to succeed and you want to set her up for that success, and so you do all the things a parent is supposed to do to guarantee your child has what you didn’t. In your search for the answer, you are not only ignoring your child who actually HAS the answers for what is going on with her you’re also sending her the message that there is a way to be, and she’s not being it. You are working hard so that your kid matches the kid you expect her to be and not the kid she is.

But she has a learning disability, you’re saying! Okay, sure. She learns differently from you. But guess what? You learn differently from her. So, do you have a learning disability? There isn’t one way to learn. We are not all the same. The way you learn might work better for the type of educational system that we’ve instituted for all our children, but just because it’s not right for her, doesn’t mean she’s the one who’s wrong. We spend so much of our time trying to bend our child to fit the world, and never work to bend the world to fit our children.

When I was little, my best friend was deaf. She could read lips, and she didn’t sign. It was up to HER to keep up with us. But what if we had all learned how to sign? What if we had helped prepare her to be part of the deaf world as well as the hearing world? We would have learned a new language, she would have felt included and she wouldn’t have had to bear the brunt of learning at the same rate as the hearing kids.

Our children shouldn’t have to prove themselves to us. We should be proving ourselves to our kids. I know people who are constantly pushing their kids to prove to adults how well they can read, or how well they can dance. And when the kid doesn’t measure up while “proving” how well she reads, the parent apologizes on her behalf, assuring the audience of adults that she in fact “can read very well for her age, she’s just being shy.” These demands and apologies send the message to your child that the things about her that are valuable are the things YOU think are valuable. What does she value? What does she feel? Why not celebrate those things?

“Children of Langa” byznagelphotography is licensed underCC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Our children have so much to teach us, but when we’re so focused on getting them to fit into the world as we know it, we’re actually overlooking the essence of what makes our kids so interesting and individual. Let’s spend more time allowing our kids to show us who they are, and a bit less time telling them how we want them to be.

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