SEEING THE WHOLE CHILD
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But this forgetting to look at the whole child can happen to all of us. When my older son was a junior in high school and getting ready to apply to college, I focused totally on his grades, his SAT scores, his tutoring, his college applications. College was the main topic of any conversation we had. He finally broke down under the pressure and accused me of being more interested in his college career than he was, and certainly more interested in getting him into a good college than anything else. I had to plead guilty.
Of course it’s important to make sure your child gets special services if he needs them, or keeps his grades up, finishes her summer reading, gets on the basketball team, has tutoring on the side, or gets into a good college. However, the precious years of childhood fly by, and if we forget to see our children as whole people, more than just the sum of our ambitions for them, we may not be doing them as much good as we think we are. In the long run, it’s just as necessary to share the excitement with your child when he sees an unusual house out the train window as it is to lobby for extra help, just as important to give a warm hug when your kid says something funny as it is to ask if he’s done his homework, and just as crucial to comfort your teen when her boyfriend breaks up with her as it is to find her an SAT tutor.
Kids need to know that we accept them with all their flaws, quirks and special qualities. And we need to let them know that we see them as whole people, because being seen completely is being loved.