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edu180atl: dianne hiltman 10.4.11

She stood up and wailed, almost.  “But if I restrict my 10th grader to only parties where no alcohol is allowed for kids, she won’t go to ANY high school parties!”

The 9-hour risk-reduction class was nearly complete.  I’d given it my best. I was wrung out.

Before the entire class of adults, I went speechless.  I had no ounce of compassion to hear this mother’s concern for her child’s popularity.

I have been trained to respond something like: 1-I can understand that seems limiting and detrimental  2-But research shows we tend to behave like groups we spend time with 3-So I carefully limit the groups my sons associate with—or something equally affirming and professional.

I was trained that way.  I have taught that technique for years. But I forgot.

I almost said “Have you lost your mind?’  But I didn’t.

I wanted to say, “How many friends did you lose to alcohol?”  But I didn’t.

I nearly demanded she phone me in 10 years to tell me how her daughter turned out.  But I didn’t.

I did remain silent, letting the misery and confusion in both our minds slow, took a full breath, and moved on. I hoped silence might allow this mother to wrestle with and sort her priorities, eventually siding with low-risk expectations for her daughter.  I knew almost anything I might say could completely mess things up.

I learned that I can forget something I know well, just in the moment I most need it.

Dianne Hiltman teaches drug & alcohol programs, cares for her parents, husband & cats & delights in her young adult sons. Mostly, she learns. 

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Maryellen Berry #

    Powerful post that affirms our humanity despite our intentions, training, and compassion. Thanks for sharing honesty and reality. As a parent, I often hear the educator in my head, but my mouth speaks words of a frustrated mother. I understand.

    October 4, 2011
  2. In a microcosm, this excellent post reveals so much of what is wrong with our society today. Popularity has become a goal that people put a greater value on than health, personal development, service, and meaningful achievement. With our media obsessed with so-called “reality stars” whose main talent seems only about becoming famous, it’s no wonder that our children (and frighteningly many parents) share the obsession with popularity. True progress in our country, however, can only come from creative solutions to our problems and needs. Creativity does not arise from the common or popular wisdom, but from divergent thinking. We need more individuals, not more popular kids.

    October 5, 2011
  3. Mandy K. #

    Blessing on you, Dianne. With love – Mandy

    October 5, 2011
  4. Beth #

    I really can’t believe that after all we have been taught in school, in life, in our careers that it still comes down to popularity. So terribly sad for our children. I want my kids to be loved too but not at their own expense. Love comes in many forms, mostly in the love of self. If you love yourself enough, it won’t matter what the masses think of you. This is the lesson I strive to teach my kids every day. It’s so hard because not everyone is going to like you. It breaks my heart to hear of another child not liking one of mine. But I have to remember the old advice my father always preached, those worth knowing are those who love you for who you are not what you can do for them.

    October 7, 2011

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