Do we ever stop to listen?

Kids are falling behind.

ADHD is on the rise and more and more kids are being diagnosed and “treated” i.e. drugged.

If children don’t meet set standards or seem to lag behind their peers in learning, they must have an IEP, maybe an OT, as well as extra tutoring.

If they seem lacking in self-esteem (gee, I wonder why THAT would happen?) we must be sure to praise them, do esteem-building exercises or in extreme cases send them away to a camp designed to “help” these kids.

We hear such statements all the time.  I can’t remember the last time I had a conversation with the parent of a schooled child in elementary school when one or all of the above statements was not mentioned in some form.

What each and every one of those statements really says, if we choose to listen, is that most kids need fixing.  Parents are told their child is deficient, broken, lacking; and then they are told what to do to fix them.    None of the solutions involves a focus on the parent/child connection, or more time with family or time away from the system of schooling.

The proposed solutions all look outward and are directed away from the family.  Drugs, tutors, camps, evaluations, OT’s, therapists.   The list is long and can quickly become very expensive and time consuming.

A friend of mine was recently told that her 9 y.o. son would benefit from a 5 week Outward Bound style sleep away camp that is “very nurturing” and “great for self-esteem”.    Oh, and it’s seven thousand dollars.

Really?  Nurturing?  Self-esteem?

How about this for a solution.  How about we stop believing that our kids are broken and need fixing.   How about we accept them for who they are and how they learn, fully and without caveat.   How about we have a community bonfire and encourage parents to bring every negative evaluation, every IEP, every statement from any expert who said there was something wrong with a child who doesn’t want to sit still all day or who can’t read Proust – or even Dick and Jane – at the age of five.  Or six.  Or seven.

How about we realize that sending our kids off to weeks and weeks of “nurturing, self-esteem building” sleep away camps for thousands of dollars will never be as good as a nurturing home environment in which children feel celebrated and accepted for who they are, instead of constantly scrutinized and reminded of who they should be.

Perhaps we should slow down and listen.  Realize that the solutions given by the system rarely solve; they only patch or conceal.   Listen to your kids.  Listen to yourself.

You might be surprised at what you hear.

5 comments on “Do we ever stop to listen?

  1. Delilah says:

    BeeN trying to undo this form of Brainwashing since I pulled my 10 y.o. Daughter out of school. My question is, how do u go about the evaluation or standardized testing requirements here in NYC?
    Sigh…Isn’t that part of the For us?

  2. Amy, just wanted to say thanks for this awesome post. We’ve been unschooling since leaving school a few weeks into first grade– and I am so very glad we made this decision. And this: “How about we stop believing that our kids are broken and need fixing. How about we accept them for who they are and how they learn, fully and without caveat…” Yeah. I couldn’t agree more.

  3. Sam Vitiello says:

    Don’t we live in a crazy, upside down world? If a child is not well adjusted to a traditional school setting, then the assumption is there is something terribly wrong with the kid. Maybe there is something terribly wrong with the system? I was actually a “good student” in a traditional school, but that doesnt make me more normal than the kids who struggled with the system for one reason or another. The fact of the matter is, the traditional k-12 system is outdated (developed 200+ years ago by the Prusssians), horribly inefficient and most of all, *unnatural*.

  4. Laura says:

    This is exactly what gobsmacked me about 13 or 14 years ago. It was like a fork in the road. I had to choose whether to believe the school counselors and doctors and begin testing and drugging my children or look at my children, individually, and see each of them as whole and perfect and not in need of fixing. I made the choice and we began our journey to becoming a different family. It made all of the difference. Thank you for the wonderful way you have put this choice into words here.

  5. David Gargiulo says:

    I agree with what I think this lady is saying. And that is these kids need more family and more nurturing from it and less treatment that is no way concerned with the inner needs, emotions and desires of the affected individual. One size does not fit all.
    I’ve never been officially diagnosed with ADHD but I think I’ve got it. I once took an Adderall or two and found myself watching TV without the channel changer in my hand. I was watching whole programs, beginning to end, without the desire to change channels every 5 seconds.
    I’ve always liked ups. Amphetamines relax me. But I think there are far too many misdiagnoses happening. I do not have unshaken faith in any system whether it’s medical or economical or what. “Authorities,” get it wrong all the time.
    I think there’s nothing wrong with so many of these so called “broken,” children. I think it’s an assault on individuality. It’s appalling how much human behavior from the individual to society at large has been shaped by the industrial age. Even our eating and sleeping habbits have been altered to fit the demands of the machine. And any variations of these patterns is considered an anomaly. We don’t have any tolerance for those that are “different,” from what we think they should be. I’ve suffered from this intolerance my whole life.
    I think if we quit treating kids like Model Ts in that they all have to have the same behavior patterns, and more like unique individuals we would all be much happier.
    This obsession with conformity has to stop like yesterday. LSD for instance was an excellent theraputic tool for treating catatonic Holocaust survivors. But it also suspended the imprinting and conditioning processes. It enabled people to see their own true course and not the one being foisted upon them by society or their parents. The substance was quickly demonized when it made its way to the populace at large. All theraputic use of it stopped in this country. Only now because of our ability to see inside the living brain because of MRI, has scientific curiosity been aroused enough that LSD is finding its way back into the labratory and into some psychiatric treatment plans.
    It is the suppression of the individual and the creative desires of same that has caused such dysfunction in our young and adult poplulation. Not everything can be cured with a science program. We are making people miserable because we punish them in all sorts of way if they’re not conforming to what society expects of them. No wonder so many people are unhappy. No one’s listening to them.
    I know there are millions of people who want to do things but don’t because of what will people say. They’re so inhibited by this that they don’t pick up a paint brush or a musical instrument for fear of society’s judgment. Maybe all they want to is express themselves, but someone close to them sees what they’re doing and begins with “Who do you think you are?” So much damage is caused by this attitude. It’s just that simple. Parents put down their children all the time and then wonder why they’re so filled with rage and sorrow.
    I’m not a scientist. I’m only a rock musician. But I think so much of this dysfunction wouild lessen if we encouraged and nurtured the individual. And that’s it for me.

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