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Mom calls teen a “R******”! :(

I sometimes get on my soapbox to talk about issues that are important to me and hopefully, at some point they may hit home for some of my readers.

This week I will be starting another series of lectures hosted and facilitated by Zacchia , PhD, Psychologist and Senior Advisor at the Douglas Mental Health Education Office (MHEO)  who will lead us on a journey into the understanding of mental health issues and ways to prevent them.   Alright,  I won’t hide the fact that I not only enjoy these lectures,  but Dr. Camillo is such a down to earth person and definitely a cutie:) First topic of this mini-psych series’s crazy!” – Overthrowing stigma in mental health. Most of the lecture will be on exploring public education campaigns to fight stigmatization in Canada and around the world.

That topic just seemed like a continuum of my last  “rant”“It’s just a word!!” “Is it, really?!!”. .

At the end of these lectures there is a question period. I already had one in mind, “If some professionals such as nurses, doctors, psychologists, social workers etc. still use politically incorrect terms among themselves, when will they actually make that “concious decison to change”?  Some professionals may  explain that they were just talking among colleagues and it was not  to  be interpretted as a “slur”.  Oh NO?!  Well, if they talk like this normally among their peers, and probably in their homes too…what’s to stop them from “slipping up” and using that “slur” like the nurse at a children’s hospital did a few weeks ago?

Now, I am not so sure I want to ask this question.  I may have to see how I feel at the end of the class. I have a few  more floating in my mind.  Where are they coming from?  Well, I’m a  youth counsellor for an anonymous National Youth help line.  Last week a young teen called to tell me how scared she was that her parents were going to get her out of her school.  She said her parents told her, “You’re gonna go to the Retard school cuz you don’t learn nothin at  your school.”  I was not sure I understood correctly.  I asked her who said that “R” word.  And she repeated it was her parents.   Oh my!:(

She went on to explain that she struggled  in school with most subjects but she did fairly well in language arts and music.  So I went on to explain to her that most people have “learning differences” and not everyone learns at the same pace.  Also, it would make sense that one may do better  in one subject and not so well in another. I could not help but share with her how I always barely passed Algebra all through high school but in college I had my first A!  My professor was patient and if you did not understand one way, he tried another way…In fact my marks were much better in college…I was finally studying something I truly enjoyed.

I told this caller, “It sounds like you are a creative person.  That’s pretty cool!”   I suggested she speak to her school counsellor about her concerns because decisions of changing school have to be done collectively and she agreed she would try.

I could not help but picture and hear the scenario over and over when I went home.  A MOM repeatedly telling her child she is a “R”. How hurtful is that!!??

She said that her teachers never gave her a hard time and in fact they often offered her help.  She said she had good friends at school and no one gave her a hard time when she could not understand somethng in Math class.  She had a few friends that even tried to help her.  Wow! Amazing, huh?  She must go to one exceptionally good school that teaches academics as well as respect and interpersonal relations.

Too bad she gets bombarded with negative feedback from her mom!  And unfortunatley, no matter how great her teachres are, how loyal her friends are, the damage on her self-concept and self-esteem has  already been cemented with deep rooted  consequences. I cringe to think how many years of therapy to help this child as an adult…IF she can afford it!

How important it is for a child to feel she is in the limelight of their parents!

It broke my heart when I realized, that no matter what I said to boost her morale and regardless if  she seemed happy by the end of the call…in the end, she will still put more weight on her mom’s opinion…such a waste …  to crush the spirit and soul of a child like that!

© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, Montreal, Canada 2012



A little bit about moi: I am a mom, a nana, a sister, a woman, a friend, a human being…a youth counsellor, Family Life Educator. I have been working in the helping profession for over 25 years and volunteered in various capacities from youths to seniors. Tournesol is my nom de plume for haiku and other Japanese form poetry here at Tournesoldansunjardin I hope you enjoy reading through my daily waka. I also have another blog "Stop the Stigma" where I may stand on my soapbox now and then and hope it will become a place to drop in and share or comment on issues important to you. In that vein this could be a great way to learn from each other. Namaste!

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