Thursday, May 26, 2005
Defining a childs future
This is one of the images I've created for a slide presentation I'm giving next week at Michael Sampson's Pathways to Literacy conference (site not updated). While looking at this photo of myself at about age four or five, I considered some of the labels given to me by the adults who loved me. According to Gary Smalley and John Trent, authors of The Gift of the Blessing, when it comes to predictions about your child's future, they are literalists — particularly when they hear predictions from their parents...the most important people in their lives. Positive affirmations light a child's path, giving them hope, purpose and a future to look forward to. While reading a chapter in this book, I considered some of the labels of my childhood.
What if instead of, "that boy is shy" or "he's too bashful," I was described as "he's an intelligent thinker?" What if instead of, "he's a sissy," I was described as "a leader, not follower," or maybe, "he's an individualist, he does his own thing, he's creative." What if my noninterest in sports was acceptable to my dad. What if he confirmed my interest in art, what if he approved of my interest in using my hands to create, what if those things were admirable to him? How might my view of the world be different today?
After making a list, I realized that almost all of the affirmations I received as a child shaped who I am today. I'm not famous, but that depends upon who you talk to. I'm not "nappy-headed," but that's because I've learned to love and accept myself as I am. I am painfully, almost cripplingly shy. I'm not a sissy, but the same things that excite many men; baseball, football, basketball and so on, just don't excite me. And I'm sometimes self conscience about it especially in the company of other men who what to discuss last nights game. My mind goes back to those days when that attitude meant that there was something wrong with me.
And as my mother affirmed on a daily basis, I was talented, I was gifted, I was and artist, and I am those things to this day.
What kind of future are you defining for your child today?