How do we parents keep up? We can't. So we constantly fail. And in raising kids through the following of social trends, we tend to listen less to wise ancestors or our own instincts and instead take our cues from test makers, psychological theorists, personality-based gurus, morning show sound bites, and magazine advice columns regarding all children in general. Our children thus get pulled in many directions, often far away from their own core nature.
One clear example of the symptoms of social trends anxiety has been the school system. Filled as it is with wonderful teachers and many other excellent resources, our educational system--primary and secondary--is so swamped with children (even in crowded preschools) that it must socialize boys and girls with differing learning styles as though they were all of one single type in terms of their social capabilities, socioeconomic status, and psychological makeup. Many of the children educated through this approach are often unable to achieve basic levels of reading, writing, math, and science learning; even worse, many with naturally diverse learning styles are pathologized, labeled, medicated, and ultimately lost. They are captives of a monolithic system that many of them simply come to hate.
Losing the Nature of the Child
By participating in the social trends parenting system, we are taking our eyes off of what our children, our family, our schools really need. The outside-in model of society-as-guide for parenting cannot do otherwise than take our eyes off the deep and complex nature of our child. Although setting high goals for our kids is crucial for their thriving, what is problematic is the lack of attention to understanding and nurturing who our specific children really are--so that we can help them set the right high goals for themselves!
Certainly, many social trends are wonderfully helpful. Many parenting experts are immensely helpful. Some surveys are very helpful, as I found in providing surveys and results in this chapter: we need to listen when parents talk. But in overrelying on social trends to help us raise kids--and in neglecting the individual and inborn nature of each child--we are overstressing millions of children toward anxiety and other disorders, toward painful labels and misdiagnosis, toward antisocial behavior and unhappiness. It's time for parents to act on behalf of the human child in revolutionary ways.
Nurturing Your Child's Nature
Perhaps in the last week, month, or year you've heard a whisper from your child: "Look, here is the person I am. Look into my eyes! Pay attention to me. All the other stuff you are throwing at me? I'm trying to do it, but what I really need, what is essential to me, is for you who love me to help me become who I am already trying to be."
My experience, research, and theoretical analysis tells me that this whisper is not some fantasy--it is the voice of nature in the child. This chapter has asked you to look at some profound issues you might be facing as a parent in this society. I hope you'll take awareness and vigilance of the issues--of chronic stress and social trends--into the rest of this book. I hope you'll join me now in discovering the fruition of your needs, hopes, and dreams in a parenting revolution: a refocus of parenting away from ephemeral social trends and on to the core nature of the individual child.