Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Expectations

Have you wondered why it seems the number of ADHD/ADD/Autism/SPD diagnoses seem to be skyrocketing?  If you're like me, you've decided they are all simply over diagnosed.  And then... you bite your tongue because you realize all those things you used to make fun of, criticize over-protective parents, say they need to chill... suddenly, you are that parent requesting that peanuts not be eaten around your child.
How did I get here?

Anyway, one thing I have thought of recently is how much we expect out of our kids.  And how this has played, I believe, a huge part in the increase in diagnoses of learning disabilities.

How did we used to live?  What kind of jobs did we used to train our kids to do?

Well, in this area of the country, kids grew up on the farm.  Dairy farm, tobacco farm, vegetable/wheat/pig farm.  Agrarian. The kids went to school, maybe graduated high school although many stopped at 8th grade.  And then they took over the farm.  Or worked at the neighboring farm.  Say they hated farming.  Well, they became mechanics and worked on machinery for the farms.  Or they put shoes on horses.  Or they butchered the pigs.

Manual labor.  That's what they did.  That's what they all did.

So if they didn't learn to read until age 10?  They didn't really need to read to take care of the cows.  It made things easier, but they could still function and make a decent living for their family even if they remained illiterate.

The child couldn't sit still and listen to the teacher for 6 hours a day?  Well, he didn't have to go to school for months on end because he was needed home on the farm anyway.  If he couldn't learn algebra, there were still plenty of things for him to do to make a living.

Your three educated people in the town were the doctor, the teacher, and the preacher.  The store-keeper was literate and pretty good at math.  Everyone else could get by with very little.

Contrast that to now.  If your child doesn't learn to read, what kind of job can he/she get?

If they can't pass Algebra 2, what can they do with their life?

Think about what all we expect a fifth grader to know.  Think about the kind of jobs we're preparing our kids to do.  Think about how we view those people who work in jobs that don't require a lot of education.  I've heard it, first-hand. "This is why you're going to go to college, so you don't end up working a dead-beat job like these stupid idiots."  (Don't talk about the fast food worker while sitting next to the speaker after placing your order in the drive-through.  They can hear every word you're saying.)

I'm very much a "nothing new under the sun" kind of person, but we're expecting a lot from our kids.  And because of this, if they get behind early, we fear they'll never catch up.  That they won't get that good college degree, and the good paying job.

We have this view that if they don't know the alphabet by age 4 they are doomed for life.  Destined to land on "Dirty Jobs" slapping oil on a big machine or cleaning manure out of pig pens.

So here's my question.  What's wrong with that?  I have a feeling some of the disciples could have landed on "Dirty Jobs."  Why do we have a problem with this?

Maybe we need to step back and give our kids a little more time.  Let off the pressure, just a bit.  Remember that in 40 years, is anyone really going to care that they couldn't identify 3 body parts by age 21 months?

And most importantly, is Jesus going to have that on His list of standards?  

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