Friday, September 18, 2009

Can't Give What We Don't Have

That’s as true for parents, clergy, therapists and educators as it is for the Salvation Army when it has run out of money. Parents can't teach their children to be good citizens with those parents speeding 70 miles an hour in a 35 mph zone. Doctors who hold an MRI film up to the light and see a trip to Paris will never have a patient thank him/her for caring. In working with children with special needs, the heart of our new book, the worker/parent/therapist/clergy person/educator is reminded that a child recognizes instantly sham, pretense, and false caring.

Have you experienced this when interacting with a child, either in an educational or conversational setting?

What about the little boy in the restaurant whose parents ordered broiled fish and broccoli for themselves, and when the waitress asked him what he wanted, he replied, “I’d like a hamburger.” His dad jumped in “Oh no, he doesn’t. He’ll have broiled fish.” The waitress replied to the young boy, “And what will you have on your hamburger?” The boy turned to his parents and said, “See….she thinks I’m a real person.” What parent hasn’t reacted in a way that unintentionally denies his child’s status as a “real person?”

Getting in touch with who we are as “real persons”, or as A. Lincoln said, “the better angels of our nature,” makes us all more authentic - whatever we are and who we would like the children to think we are. Daughter Amy and I will be speaking on topics related to recognizing children as real persons, burnout and the “vital balance” when we present the keynote address at the Investing In Family Support conference in Scottsdale next month. You can find more information at:

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