I am getting frustrated with parents who I know love their children dearly, and teachers who I know want to see their students succeed, who operate as though the ideal is real. They have a dream for their children, a wish for how they had turned out or would turn out. So much so that they cannot see who is standing right in front of them. A child who tragically lost his mother to heart failure. A child who is in the middle of an acrimonious divorce between the two people he or she loves the most. A child being viciously bullied at school. A child who has experienced medical trauma or who lives in a dangerous neighborhood. The less than ideal events and circumstances of our children’s lives are numerous and diverse. Yet we continue to expect that they are going to be a number one student, a star athlete, and perfectly behaved. I tried to explain to a father the other day that he expects his 11-year-old son to win the marathon when after suddenly and tragically losing his mother at the age of 7 he is now running the race with a broken leg. Parents and teachers, please try to see the child standing before you. Not the child before the event occurred, but the child that is before you now, who needs help to learn to manage life in a new way, a life that is no longer so innocent, sheltered, or childlike. Traumatized children now know that life is difficult and bad things can happen at any turn. They need our understanding, compassion, and our acceptance of them exactly how they are.
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