Imparting the Spirit of Superman

I wrote this post in anticipation of watching “Waiting for Superman.” I wanted to express my thoughts as a mother before my passion as an education  influenced my perspective. I believe that having successfully raised two children, in dire circumstances no less, provides the platform to comment as a parent. If this post seems out of context after I watch the movie, I will gladly mop up any misplaced comments and publicly eat large portions of humble pie.

Imparting the Spirit of Superman

I do not believe that any school or educational system should be our children’s Superman. Inspiring the spirit of a child to rise up, in spite of all odds, discover an identity, and then dare to change his or her world is the spirit of Superman we seek. This spirit is imparted to a child when caring adults invest the time, whether at school or at home. 

I believe parents and guardians, family and friends must partner with teachers and schools to support the academic needs of students.

My children had every reason to give up. The devastation of divorce and loss of our family’s ministry career proved difficult for a ten and seven-year-old to bear. They lived in our single-parent home during those vulnerable late elementary through high school years. We studied together around the kitchen table because I went back to school to finish my degree. We explored our talents and identities because I was trying to figure out what I loved and who I was. We carved productive lives out of the rock quarry of bad circumstances in which we found ourselves. Yes, that season was truly the winter of our souls but we lit the fire of perseverance in our family’s hearth.

The Winter of my Soul

Recently, my twenty-six year old son asked me to read one of his rough draft essays for his business school application. I wept as I read his tribute to me, ” I realize now that my mother’s dedication empowered me to succeed and inspired my vision.” We waited for Superman but the chair remained empty so we had to become the strength and courage we needed.

I believe that each child has the potential to possess the spirit of superman, an everyday person who, when needed, rises to the occasion with extraordinary deeds. How does a child become a superman or superwoman? This happens when the adults in his or her life model these traits.

When those who youth admire possess common interests and willingly cultivate those passions in a child’s life, youth become motivated. Adults spark the wick of a child’s heart with a desire for excellence. Yet, in order to light this match, adults must slow down long enough to find out what innate talents and budding interests children and youth possess. If we cannot relate or do not know how to help, then we find someone else who does to act as a mentor to our child.

Supportive Grandparents

Although this contribution often occurs from a close family member or friend, this can also be the blessing given from a gifted teacher. My own two children had their supermen and superwomen teachers. Donna King helped instill creativity and innovation, Mr. Brotze ignited the fires of learning. As a parent, I am grateful for the many teachers who imparted their passions and talents to me children. However, some teachers seemed more like the Joker with their demeaning methods. Those we try to forget. 

Yet ultimately, I never expected my children’s teachers to act as their surrogate mother or father. Although I am a strong proponent of excellence in education, I do not advocate handing over the molding of our children to an institution such as education.

So today, may we all seek to be a superman or superwoman in the life of a child or youth. Let us form families, churches, and communities of support so our children can grow into their capes and masks.

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  1. Jodee, I agree. Schools don’t raise children. Families do. Unfortunately, when families fail, schools sometimes do step in, and that’s great. But a school is a generally a poor surrogate for a loving family and dedicated parent.

    • Yes, you are right. Schools do step in when the family fails but were never intended to become the family. What comes first, the cart or the horse? I worry for a nation that has put the cart first. The public school system is a very heavy cart we teachers are trying to push up a very steep hill. To add insult to injury, we are accused of letting it roll back down when the pushing gets difficult. If the public sector helped us harness some horses, the changes they desire would become possible. As much as I would love to work for a magnificent charter school, I cannot reconcile the fact that a significant amount of youth who would never be accepted because they lack the supportive family needed as a prerequisite. So I will stay behind and push the cart as long as I can.

  2. Well put my friend …. well PUT!

  3. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story JoDee–raising children in difficult circumstances.

    I agree that schools and teachers should be a supportive (as opposed to the primary driver) to what the family is doing at home.

    People I know laugh at me when I discuss fostering a love of learning at an early age. Not to say that this love can’t be developed later by someone else, but I think if mom, dad, or loving guardian invests time in a young child, we will all be blessed by the dividends later.

    • Well said, Slam Dunk! Your dedication to foster a love of learning in your children at an early age WILL highly contribute to their future educational success. Oh that all parents and guardians would realize the power they have to inspire children from the home front!

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  1. [...] better get some kleenex handy for a good cry. I will send you the link to the post I titled, “Imparting the spirit of Superman.” It is about our overcoming, you, Elya, and me. I love and miss you so much my chest aches, but I [...]

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