All kids have had a hard time this last year. Of course, for many less privileged children the last twelve months were just an introduction to the daily struggle their parents have experienced since the day they were born. Broken systems. Lurking danger. Shrinking options. Pivotal moments lost that will never come back.
And this doesn’t even get into the uneven way that life deals things out. Some kids have learning disabilities. Some have medical conditions, etc, etc.
We have to remember, though, with our kids—and indeed with all kids—is that for all the difficulty and adversity they will face, they are strong and resilient. They are capable of great things if we believe them to be, and we provide them the resources and support they need to make it possible. There was a great piece in The Atlantic by Ron Berger recently, titled “Our Kids Are Not Broken.” This passage stands out:
A few years ago, I was discussing education with my running group, the Coffee Cake Club, during a Sunday run. One of my buddies, who is Black, twisted his head back and said, “Well, there’s only one thing that matters about a teacher.” I was taken aback. “Really? Just one thing?” He shrugged as if it were obvious and responded: “That they believe in you. I was a lousy student when I was young. Because of my racial background and family, my teachers basically viewed me as broken. They didn’t give me challenging work; they didn’t push me. In all of my years in school, there were only two teachers who saw something in me and pushed me and believed in me. I could easily have dropped out, but because of those two teachers, I’m getting my Ph.D. next year.
For all that your kid has been through this past year, and all they will go through in the years to come, you have to continue to believe in them. They are not broken. They don’t need to “be realistic” or settle. Every kid—your kid, even your unhappiest, unluckiest kids—can be something and someone provided they are given that one person who believes in them. Someone willing to gift them with expectations, to push them toward places they’ve never even heard of. Someone willing to be a fan, even when things are bleak. Someone who is willing to help and encourage and fight for them.
That has to be you. For your kids…and all kids.