tradecraft…know your role

whether a teacher, youth director, juvenile justice worker–or, a parent…it is important to reflect and think about how you are interacting with the children you work with or the children you have…

and to know your role

one day in class a student asked me:

hey, mr. d., you’re my friend, right?!

i replied:

no, i’m not…i’m your teacher

on a different day, another student from another class  ‘doubled down’ on that comment and asked:

hey, mr. d., do you want to come a house party i’m throwin’ this saturday?

while images of me pulling a high-school version of ‘frank the tank’ filled my head…i replied:

no, i’m good

for the past decade, one of my biggest pet peeves with parents (and occasionally with certain youth leaders) is their wanting their kids to like them and/or being ‘friends’ with their kids (this wasn’t something i saw a lot of in my work with kids in the ’90s) 

let’s pause and think about this for a minute–parents have to realize what they are giving kids when they do things in this way…they are giving them the parental power and authority…and, this kind of power is, quite honestly, too big for young people–remember, we’re talking about kids–children and teenagers, people whose brains are not fully developed…people who, have brain damage 🙂

and to give them…the keys to the kingdom…unbelievable?!

i recently heard a phenomenal lecture by dr. leonard sax (as recommended to me by my friend, katie sanders), where he addressed this very issue…it is a lecture that should be “required listening” for all parents and youth leaders–in his presentation there are two brilliant insights that rise above a lot of good material–they are:

the first prerequisite of being a good parent is that you cannot be concerned with whether your child likes you or not…


parents need to be confident of their authority…parents have stepped away from their authority in this country…

(lecture on faith and boys and girls–the great disappointment, 10/10/13 )

the unwillingness to be the authority, to be the parent…leads to kids who think they can do whatever they want whenever they want to…they believe they are entitled to it..they believe they should be calling the shots…disrespecting every other adult they encounter along the way (including their parents)…

ultimately, it provides kids with a false sense of how the real world works…how will they handle rejection, suffering, and struggle? what are we preparing them for? what are we setting them up for?

unfortunately, i see this kind of thing play out in my classroom every single day…

luckily, there is a remedy, a fix–though far from easy–we can change how we do things…we can actually herd dem cats, instead of letting ’em run wild…


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