Food For Thought Friday: The Biggest Challenge Can Be The Strongest Gift

I'm pretty sure I was a challenging child. Emotions that tended toward the dramatic, an enthusiastic storyteller who would often fool people into thinking that my stories were true, an ever moving mouth spilling my thoughts in a constant loop, an independent spirit with an itch to move constantly (I filled every open space with movement). I sometimes imagine what it may have been like to parent me. Then I need a nap.  I don't think anyone ever had a conversation with my parents about medicating me because of my "challenges."  

Now I am grown, my emotions give me sufficient fodder for a blog where I tell my true stories of life, my constant moving mouth has given way to a career in talk radio, my itch to move constantly led me to dance classes and ultimately to a major in dance, with a special talent in choreography (filling space with movement).  When my mom was up to her eyeballs in my "challenges" when I was a child, she didn't know the end of the story (and believe me, we're only in the middle of the story...)

We know enough to be dangerous these days, we have plenty of labels that we can slap on kids and then we can react to them accordingly.  We use them to write children off, excuse their difficult behavior, and find order in the difficult world of child rearing.  I shudder to think of what labels would have been applied to me when I was a child.

The world lost a very important man last week.  Dr. Peter Benson. I am lucky to have known him in life. He is the father of one of my dearest friends.  His legacy is the concept of the Spark. Each child has within them a spark, when it is ignited they shine so bright.  I have a spark, you have a spark, the person behind the counter at the coffee shop has a spark, the person in the car next to you has a spark, each of us, our own unique spark.  When we harness the energy of the spark, we are unstoppable.  My "challenges" were my sparks.

I am an extremely involved parent. I actively pursue education about parenting methods so that I can parent to my unique children. I don't want my children's lives to be easy, but I want their interactions to be comfortable. The Human Cannonball is aptly named, he takes the world by storm. To be frank, I am tired of implications that there may be something "wrong" with him from teachers and other parents alike. I'm not saying that there aren't challenges, or that I should not pursue avenues to help manage and teach different behaviors, I am saying that there is so much focus on what's "wrong" with our children, and not enough focus on what is RIGHT!  For each of us, our biggest challenges frequently turn out to be our strongest gifts. It's a long, winding road, but it doesn't have to be.  If we parent to our children's sparks, how can we go wrong?

What is your child's spark? What is your own spark? What were your "challenges" as a child, and how have they become your gifts?

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  1. I love this post. I often think about that concept with my littlest. Sadie is my most "challenging." She is headstrong, determined to get her way, and a daredevil. But I think about how in the future she will not be easily swayed by others, she'll work hard at things, and will move through life without fear. Her biggest challenges can be looked at as strengths, and I don't want to squash that in her!

  2. Great post. I am certain that I was a challenged kid to parent. I am grateful to the people that chose to see me in a positive light instead of dosing me with some label.

    I do agree others lean towards what is "wrong" over what is "right" with everyone now a days.

    Maybe out of fear? Perceptive, I guess, it's one of those glass half empty/full things.

    I choose to see the spark.

  3. Colleen,

    New to me. Bumper sticker on car in front of me:

    My A. D. D. child can run rings around your honor student child.

    I laughed uproarishly. I am a former teacher.


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