We’ve all heard the comments all too often.
Did you hear the teacher’s kid is suspended? And the minister’s son decided not to go to college, doesn’t go to church every week, and is instead going to try to tour the country with some band! Oh my goodness…these are the people who are supposed to know how to raise their kids to be perfect angels at all times. What a shame.
Even when I was talking about this subject with my husband, he said, “But it is true that it always seems to be those kids you hear about.” I agree. So when the kid who lives in low-income housing and whose parents work their butts off every night on the night shift at the factory gets in trouble, it’s just not newsworthy because apparently, this is to be expected.
So I ask this…what are we doing to our kids?
We pigeon-hole and we expect. We believe they should live a certain way or be a certain person because of who their parents are, where they live, and how much money they have. It’s absolutely ridiculous and it has to stop. Take me for example. Here I am. I’m a mother of two young sons and I’m in the 24th grade. I’m almost a doctor of Special Education and I teach as a lecturer at a nearby University. I know education. I know kids. But here’s what I don’t know.
I don’t know how to raise my sons any better than that person with a high school education working nightly in the factory.
So today was a hard day in the Koch house. It’s never a good sign when the principal walks with your child to the car during after-school pick up. I learned my 4th grade son had pulled a chair out from underneath a female classmate, trying to be funny, and caused her to fall. Thankfully, she didn’t get hurt. But she could have, and I completely agreed with the school’s decision to give my son a day and a half of In-School Suspension (ISS). I’m not going to lie, I cried. For one, my son was crying. That’s not easy on a momma’s heart, but my tears were more of disappointment. I’m sad my son made this choice and truly could have hurt someone. I’m sad he didn’t know better. But alas, I’m sad I just don’t know how to help him understand his actions.
As parents, we can try and try to use our experiences to help our kids make the right choices every time. No parent is immune to the reality of not knowing what to do. But the truth is sometimes our words go in one ear and out the other. Sometimes our kids just aren’t ready to listen. And sometimes our kids have to fall hard in order for the life lessons to really hit home. I’m thrilled my son is in ISS. He made a bad choice, and now he has a principal and teachers telling him the same things he hears at home. We are a team. It takes a village to raise a child.
Just because I’m an educator doesn’t mean my son should be held to any higher standard than any other child. He has to learn in the same ways we adults did to get to the point we are at today. I think of myself as a 4th grader and I’m pretty sure I would have kicked my own ass. I was a liar, a cheater, and an entitled snot. My husband received ISS as a 6th grader. As parents, we all too often forget who we were during the years of trying to find ourselves.
So as an educator, I beg this of you. Please do not believe any child should or should not be any certain way because of who his or her parents are. Every child needs and deserves nurturing, education, a swift kick in the ass at times, and someone who truly believes in their abilities to become great. Not great according to anyone else’s rules, but great according to personal dreams, desires, and goals. Parenting only goes so far, then comes free will.
I will do my job as a mother to love my sons, to teach them about Jesus, to discipline them, to show them a healthy relationship with my husband, to teach them right from wrong and respect, to pray for them, and to back up the others trying to help me raise them (principals, teachers, community members, family, etc.). But mostly, I will do my job as a mother and help my sons understand that bad behavior does not mean bad kid, and bad kids do not exist. Bad choices mean opportunities for learning.
Every parent is in the same boat and we are all navigating choppy waters from time to time. Sometimes you just have to hold on and believe in our kids’ abilities to take the wheel. Every kid, no matter who his or her parents are, needs positive interactions and someone who sees the heart before the behavior. Be that person who believes in kids.
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