In a time when diversity is flourishing all around us, especially in a place like Montreal, it deeply saddens me to hear stories such as the one my hairdresser shared with me this week.
You see, he is gay and ‘somewhat flamboyant’ (his words, not mine), and each time that he shops at his local mall, people give him negative looks and make comments about how he is dressed or the clothes that he is buying. He said that over time he has become resilient and always smiles politely, trying not to let people’s judgments of him get under his skin. As I profusely apologized to him on behalf of the human race, I began to think about what my students go through on a regular basis because they themselves are different, having difficulties with attention, hyperactivity, daydreaming, learning disabilities, different interests, or inappropriate social skills.
One major obstacle that I often come across when working with students is the pressure placed upon them to conform to what is expected by their schools, teachers, parents, friends, and society in general.
Usually, these students also put a lot of pressure on themselves. They want to be who everyone expects them to be.
They want to fit in. They want to be a part of the group. They want to make their parents proud. They want to get good grades. They want to succeed. The difficulty with this idea is that every student, regardless of their ability, capacity to learn, emotional state, aptitude for sports or music or art, or any other strength or weakness that they may possess, is unique and different. They are their own person and we should treat them with respect, dignity and tolerance. And if they are out of the box, creative thinkers, who learn, look or dress differently, then we should embrace their unique nature and encourage them to reach their greatest potential!
As Kahlil Gibran said so well in his poem, On Children:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
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.
And now it’s your turn!
In the comments below, please share a story of something you have done to help your child discover what they truly love, reach their greatest potential, or explore what makes them special. Your story will be sure to inspire others, so please participate!
Until next time, happy reading!