Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tying shoelaces

One of the core reasons I created the Life Puzzle model was to address this fact: Human beings have to be taught how to be human. I came to realize that most adults--even those having children, truly do not understand that simple, basic fact. I've had adults tell me again and again that they assumed children, after a certain age, would just figure it out. That as parents, they needed to provide food and shelter and some schooling--but then it was up to the child to figure it out for themselves.

Yes, we know when they're quite young we have to take care of them. But it seems to me that about the time a child can tie their own shoelaces or pour their own milk...we begin to see them as capable of figuring out how to do the rest of their lives.

But the honest truth is--children don't figure it out by themselves. Left to their own devices, they'll end up making lots of knots with their shoe laces instead of tying it correctly. They need lots of guidance and they need adults to show them the big picture of what it takes to be a human being--and then the little steps to get there--as in how to correctly tie their laces or build a great life.

If all of us adults understood this, we'd engage in more dialogue with our children, spend more time helping them practice so many of the things they need to learn--just as we sat patiently and practiced tying shoe laces with them. Don't assume they'll figure it out--assume the opposite in fact--that a good conversation about every little thing they need to learn is worth the time to show them you care and that its okay to 'not know'. Then they'll assume their parents are there to fall back in when confused and unsure.

Every day on our streets you can see the impact of children being left to figure it out for themselves. It isn't a pretty picture. Changing it starts with us adults--realizing human beings don't just happen--we have to be taught to maximize our human capacity. We needed help learning to tie our shoe laces so they didn't come out all knotted...and we need help learning to become human so our lives aren't a knotted mess too.