Imagine you’re walking into your favorite local grocery store with a toddler, lets just say a three year-old. As you go down the fruit aisle he picks up an orange (while avoiding crashing the cart once he takes his hand off the pretend driving wheel). Once he has the orange in his hand, he does what any normal three year-old would do…
He squeezes it.
What comes out?
Tomato juice? Nooooo.
What comes out is what’s inside, orange juice of course.
A couple of weekends ago I heard a message from one of my church’s pastors which got me thinking about how we raise and educate our kids. The point which stuck with me was on how during the Christmas season we can become too focused on what the gift (box) looks like. In doing so, we ignore the contents of the box. Just like the orange, what’s inside us will come out when squeezed by life’s trials and tests.
What really matters is the content of the box.
As a parent, educator, and coach I see this problem too often. It’s not a local issue, this is a societal issue. We’re too concerned with outside appearance and public perceptions when our focus should be on the content. This is especially relevant to the young boys and men in our culture.
I am the proud father of two amazing young boys, ages six and three. My wife and I have been pressured to label and diagnose our oldest child. He has ADHD; and he’s brilliant. He doesn’t always conform and he can be quite the challenge at times. However, he’s so uniquely loving, talented, and gifted.
My wife and I know what’s inside his box and we could care less what others think of him or how we raise him. He’s not going to be like the other kids. He may or may not play sports (even though has natural talent is capable of doing well). That doesn’t matter to me. I love who he and his younger brother are. I wouldn’t change their personalities for anything.
Growing up I felt pressure to conform throughout grade school and high school. Heck, it was there in college too. As a result I didn’t always make the best decisions or treat people the way I should have because of those pressures. My wife was bullied, teased, and picked on to extreme levels when she was in grade school.
All for what?
I believe it all stems from people trying to act or appear a certain way. We, or they, all felt the actions were needed for our “boxes” to be “cool” and “accepted.” Which is obviously not true. Who we are on the inside matters far more than who we are on the outside.
It’s time to change the way we educate our students and athletes.
In the educational and athletic worlds we often hear the phrase, “It’s all about the students.” I would challenge the validity of the statement. Too often decisions are made across our country solely based on how it’s going to look or be perceived. Look around, our world has many important issues which need reconciling. I believe we wouldn’t have so many issues if we focused more on the content of our kids’ self-esteem, image, worth, value, and character.
We need to cut back or eliminate standardized testing. The internet has changed the game. If you can look up an answer from Siri or Alexa it shouldn’t determine what scholarships you get or universities you get accepted into. The university system needs to implode. People who make important educational decisions should have a background in education. It’s time we really did what’s best for the kids; not what will look best on paper.
Most importantly, we need to shift our focus on raising and educating the whole person. Not someone who can test well. The world needs more people who feel fulfilled, validated, and have a purpose.
It’s easier to raise and educate children the right way rather than repairing broken adults.
So, let’s quit placing so much emphasis and importance on the appearance of the box. It doesn’t matter how good the box looks if it’s empty inside. The contents matter most.
My wife and I are committed to raising our boys to love and embrace who they are; not who society says they should be.
I’m committed to living and serving intentionally to help educate and coach our young people. I want them to realize who they are is more important than a test score or box score. They all have value. They all are uniquely talented.
They need to hear it more often.
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