22 December 2011

What They Are, Or What We Think They Should Be?

Since I work with teens all the time when I'm teaching high school, it's really fascinating for me to witness how adults treat the kids.  Somehow, there seems to be almost always an unspoken expectation that the kids are going to live up to what we think they should be, and among adults I rarely see unconditional acceptance for the kids just as they are.  After all, we're adults, right?  So we know how they should be acting and what they should be doing.

But that couldn't be further from the truth.  None of us knows how another human being should be acting.  None of us knows just how another person feels or thinks.  These are things that are integral parts of who people are, but that aren't accessible to others.  Someone may tell us how he or she feels, but do the words adequately express the feeling?

Our children deserve our best, and our best isn't telling them what to do.  Our best is helping them to discover who they are and what they're good at and what they love.  Our best is helping to put them on the road to develop their own personalities and skills and talents.  Our best is accepting them unconditionally as they are, not accepting them only when they become what we think they should be.

We all want to be accepted.  We all want love and support from others, but we neither want nor need to be changed by others just because they think we should be something else.  Change comes from the inside, and it's important that we don't try to impose it upon other human beings, no matter what their age.  Sometimes it's difficult to see people make mistakes and do things that we know are harmful, but at least we know that they're learning as they go.  And we can learn along with them and even from them, if we just allow them to be themselves.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.

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