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?


Anonymous said...

Wow, this is a good reminder and a well written!

In the 70's I was known as Poindexter and probably still have it in me!

ShellyP said...

What an adorable little boy!!

I wish all parents were as conscientious.

YouToldHarpoTaBeatMe said... linked me! You really really linked me! LoL

My oldest son, 12, is very quiet, bashful, nor does he care too much for sports. However, he's smart as a whip. *proud grin*

Thanks for shedding some light, because you've given me further confirmation. Now I know I truly have something to look forward to with him. :o)

The Gig said...

My little grandson looks just his dad in this picture. I think that look alikes act alike - sometime, especially in this case where the offspring looks like the old spring.

Jdid said...

Are you going to come out with a who is Don tate album like that Dude Mike Jones? lol. "Don tate, Don Tate who Don Tate."

As a kid I was described as shy and quiet and a nerd lol.

greggy said...

D..amazing how much of the same experiences we apparently shared when we were my case my dad also did not approve of my artistic abilites when I was younger. Rather than sports, I was much more into drawing and painting, pursuits he called sissfied. It didn't help that I was left-handed either...mercy...
In spite of the early labeling, I think we both turned out pretty cool, eh?

Diva said...

Hmmm...what if instead of the ugly, but smart girl I was called pretty. Would I, as an adult, obsessed so much about my body? What if instead of the nerd flute-player in g/t, I got atleast ONE vote for the homecoming court or cheerleading squad? Would I have fallen for the okey-doke so many times? What if my mother had a nickname for me like she did for my little sister (poochie gal) and showed just as much enthusiasm when I walked in the door from school as when she did (There's my poochie gal!)? Grrrr...What am I? Invisible? Any therapists in the house?

Brea said...

What a great post. Parents and teachers should be very mindful of what they say to children. Children should be seen, heard, and believed in. Thanks for the reminder.

G. Cornelius Harris said...

I'll keep you posted

WIP said...

As a mother, who willingly stays home to raise her SON and two daughters, I took this thing to heart. I sow and pour into my children every chance I get. When people began asking my son does he play any sports (he played flag football earlier, but I thought he was a bit young to understand the game, so I asked dad to pull him from it), he proudly says, "Not yet, but I'm a very good artist!" I simply glow at his ability to articulate himself and his personality, self-confidence, and the boy-wonder he is turning out to be. I still do not know what the future holds for any of my kids, but I will keep your words posted, in mind, and continue to pray for their bright futures. My husband professes daily that he's waiting for the four of us to be discovered and whisked away to Hollywood and become famous, so he can be the "Dave Meyer" of the family, LOL.

What's up with BOYS who cry so freakin' much?!

EJ Flavors said...

Great reminder of this. On the one hand, I was considered gifted. On the other hand I was called the sissy. Luckily I was able to be sheltered in school most of the time. It didn't stop from being hit on and ridiculed in the south as someone 'too smart for his own good' but I perservered.

Awesome, awesome post, Mr. Tate. My hat goes off to you on this one.

Anonymous said...

What a cutie patootie! Amazing how the labels stick with us. I'm still haunted by the labels other children gave me. Funny how we can remember the negatives more than the positives huh! You've reminded me of how important it is to check the labels we give our kids today.

silentbird said...

First of all, you were TOO cute in that picture!

You remind me so much of my husband. He was a skinny little kid who always got picked on in grade school. And he ended up pursuing engineering instead of his passion, graphic design, in order to impress his parents (his dad and 2 brothers were engineers). He FINALLY changed his mind to follow his passion, and I couldn't be happier for him. This post made me realize that when we DO have children (one day) we need to encourage them in whatever they strive to do. Great post!

I've been blog-stalking you for awhile! I'll try to comment more.


Christopher M. Beatrice said...

Well school, humm bad times, I was tortured but hey. They say what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. I was bullied allot but was always willing to be friends with anyone. I believe this may be why I was always a quiet person. Well after I got in church and met Jesus boy did that change I just can't seem to shut up now. lol Well anyway enough from me.

Myrah said...

I will echo everyone else by saying how cute you were and in my opinion you still are!!!

The only label that was given to me was "Cute little girl"
Never smart or talented. I only heard or remembered that. I never thought I could be smart so I never tried!

Great post!