Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Being a child is hard. There's so much to learn and the bar is set quite high. It's no surprise really that few of us come out of childhood unscathed and I'm wondering if it has something to do with the strange, paradoxical expectation that we want our children to be both normal and unique. Interestingly, the trip through adulthood seems to be about fighting this paradox as well. Some of us want to be more "normal" while others of us want to be more "unique".

We spend a lot of time as parents asking ourselves, each other, our doctors, our teachers, and everyone in between if a behavior is "normal". Along side that is the hope and expectation that our children are treated as unique individuals and identified as special amongst their peers. For example, we want our "normal" children to get "straight As" in school. Is that possible? By definition, an "A" is awarded to excellent work. Not "normal" work.

Not that this is a news flash, but we live in a VERY competitive culture. The normal/unique paradox is almost the catalyst of this cultural issue. It is the classic battle between nature and nurture. The drive to survive and blend-in against the social expectation that we are more than we may be able to be. Living constantly in the disappointment of ourselves. It's no wonder self-esteem in children is at an all-time low. It makes me wonder if "acting out" a way to satisfy this mysterious expectation.

And what about all those children who can never be "normal"...those who are living a more dramatically unique life because they were given to us that way? How do they fit in to this picture?

I honestly don't know what the solution is, if there even is one. I'm just troubled by the issue and wanted to shine some light on it. As a typical parent, of course I want my child to be normal in "all the right ways" and unique in "all the right ways", but more than anything I'd like to find a way to reconcile the conflict. It's may easier if we're normal, but can be more fun if we're unique.


Anna said...

Huh, interesting. Lloyd and I 'debate' this sort of issue often, usually when Weston dresses himself. I don't care if his shoes match, his pants are on backwards, or he doesn't want to wear a coat. But Lloyd can't stand it; he values 'normal' more, and I like 'unique' better!

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