No, I’m not referring to the B side of the Beatles album “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Many of you may have minimal knowledge of the Beatles, let alone their music. For the record, I’m in the group that lived through the British Invasion in the mid-1960s; no, that was not a military operation. I’m referring to a far too common phrase that many of us have heard in our lifetime, and worse yet, may have said to a friend or even our children. This is a psychological seed that should never be planted. While it’s true that there certainly are things we should not do in life, let’s focus for a moment on those fantastic things that we could do.
Let me share an example of what I mean. My youngest was born profoundly deaf, so we decided to allow her to attend a residential school out of state that was very progressive. Because most of the children, including my own, had cochlear implants, this school helped these children perfect (as best they could) their listening and speaking skills. The results were astounding. As we were doing our exit interview near the end of the elementary school years, we met with the school psychologist, and I’ll never forget what she told our daughter and us. She said we should have realistic expectations regarding what to expect from our child as she grows up. The example she gave was in the field of nursing. She said, “If your daughter decides she wants to be a nurse, she will most likely become an LPN rather than an RN.”
When I left that meeting and that school, I was somewhat bewildered. For five years, my daughter was taught that she could do anything, and we also believed that. We had never told our child that there was anything she could not do. Time passed, and we forgot that advice. High school ended, then on to her bachelor’s degree, followed by her master’s, and today, she is completing her thesis for her EdD at a major university. She holds a very responsible position in state government, is married, and is a homeowner. Contrary to conventional wisdom, she learned, and we supported the belief that we can accomplish almost anything of value we set our minds to and are willing to work for.
Unfortunately, some children have minimal confidence and belief in their abilities. It’s not unusual for a child to say, “I can’t do it!” Physical limitations may exist, but we should be our kiddo’s biggest cheerleaders. When they say this, we might try encouraging them by offering one of the following responses:
- “I know this is hard for you.” Above all, listen to your children, and let them open up and discuss the issue.
- “Have I ever told you about…” Please talk about your struggles or those of others close to them and encourage them to do their best. I know my daughter has a story to tell.
- “You can’t do this yet.” The word “yet” allows you to talk about what can happen.
There is no end to studies written on this topic, and I do not profess to have all the answers, but I do remember the limiting belief we could have fallen victim to years ago. We chose not to, and I hope if you are ever faced with a similar situation regarding your future, your hopes, and dreams, or those of your child, you will overcome them as well.
Written By: Dave Christy