Saturday, June 07, 2008

The empowering of today's victims. . .

Well, school is over, thank God. I must say, I got physically stiff the last couple of days since because I wasn't walking as much. The job was great for my health! So, must continue walking more and more.
The child did have a big blow up the day before the last day. However, because the women, all of us, got after him strongly, he recovered quickly and regained his status. For a while, in the beginning, he would always say thinks like:
"I have anger issues, so I can't control myself."
"I have a bad homelife, so it's too hard for me to control myself."
He was so used to parroting these things he has heard from the school psychologist. I hope I don't offend, but psychology is not much of a science and I have very little respect for the practice. I always seem to find that psychologists are mostly people who are trying to figure their own problems out. Growing up, one of my best friend's mom was a psychologist. Her secretary committed suicide. She had no idea her secretary was suffering. That is just weird to me.
Anyway, I'm sure there are good psychologists, however, every one I've ever seen in action seems to empower people to continue make excuses for their behavior and act as victims. The child was parroting excuses that he was given by the school doc. Luckily, this guy doesn't come around very often. The child's teacher was very much walking on eggshells in the beginning, following all the procedures laid out by the psychologist. In the end, she still was, but she added something else to the mix, with our support and. . .encouragement. She added a firmness, an insistance on personal accountability no matter what was happening. 3 of us always spoke in a no-nonsense way with him, and I think she garnered strength and confidence from that. In the last few weeks, whenever he pulled the victim act, none of us fell in with him on it.
"No, it's not my fault. You made the choice to kick the chair and scream in so-and-so's face, no one else made it for you. That's why you're not in class."
"If you choose to do your work for the next few hours, you can go back to class. If you choose to act out, no class. Period."
"Yes, you have a bad home life, but that doesn't mean YOU have to be bad."
He made significantly more progress when he was held fully accountable. He was also given encouragement, kudos, and love.
How many times do WE make excuses, hold grudges, carry unnecessary baggage? In all of our hearts, I think we already know the answers to those nagging questions about who we are, if we are honest with ourselves. . .letting that stuff go, taking responsibility, and just getting on with living a good life.
We have to teach, and learn, to PUSH through the pain of whatever it is that is holding us back. It's hard! I've had my own moments, believe me. Our energy flags, but we have to gather strength. In order for us to help kids (and adults!) like this, we have to tell them we expect nothing less than their success--no excuses. I remember telling my "son" Robert that, yes, he had some pretty crappy parents in the beginning. Yes, his childhood was bad. Yes, he had some obstacles to overcome. But it was HIS responsibility to overcome them. I sympathized with his plight, but I did not pity him. I was there for him, but I expected nothing less than he was capable of...and now he is a contributing member of the US Army, a mechanic soon to go to Special Forces. Before he left for the Army I told him I was proud of him. He got angry at me..."I haven't done anything to be proud of yet!!"
When he came back for a visit in February, well after basic training, and having worked on big machines, I asked him, "Can I tell you how proud I am of you now?" He answered with a big grin, "Yes." :-D
He pushed through. I think everyone can.

8 comments:

Missy said...

K, I just got off of the phone with my baby brother after telling him so much of what you wrote here. He is FINALLY going into rehab after 3 years of patient boundary setting by the whole family - and lots of prayer. It was hard to let it out of our hands, but we had to let him know our expectations and give him a chance to get it. He knows we all believe he can.

They do have to make the choice themselves, don't they? It's very helpful to let them know that. :)

Beyond what you've done with this boy, imagine what you ladies have empowered this young teacher to do! Who knows how many children she will now be equipped to help?

karen said...

Missy, yippee for your bro! Good for all of you, too. It helps to have a team on this, doesn't it? I always thought of you when I'd tell the child that others have come through hard beginnings and succeeded.
His teacher (who has the child nearly full-time, not fair) is actually my age--as are the others on our "team." This is her second career...she has one adopted daughter, no sons, and I think she's using this philosophy now on her pre-teen daughter. ;-D

karen said...

And, yes...they do have to make the choice themselves. . .and we have to draw the line between pampering a victim, or encouraging a winner. I hope I don't sound too harsh, but sometimes they just gotta suck it up! :-O

Connie said...

kkd, you done gooood, and I'm proud of YOU!

Milly said...

Karen people like you make them want to do better. I'm glad you were there for them. I'm proud of ya!

karen said...

Thanks, gals...but t'weren't me!

I'm proud I walked that school for over 2 months, though...wasn't sick a day! That's pretty cool! :-)

Kansas Bob said...

JK Rowling agrees with your approach Karen. Here is what she told the Harvard graduating class:

"There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you."

karen said...

KB, boy, that's a good one!