Changing the Future, Not Punishing the Past

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When my oldest son was attending Junior High School, he had a bit of a struggle. Very early in Junior High he was labeled as having ADHD. I’ll get to that later. Every year was a struggle for Danny. Every semester he would barely move on to the following grade. He also had a really hard time accepting the “ADHD” label.

Towards the end of his last year of school I received a call informing me that the counselor had set up a meeting with Danny, his teachers, and they, of course, wanted his parents to be present. The meeting, I was told, was to figure out a way to help Danny graduate with the rest of his class mates as he was at risk of not doing so.

I arrived to the meeting a few minutes late. When I walked in I noticed Danny sitting at the end of a table with his shoulders shrugged and his eye glued to the top of his folder. His counselor, his mother, and all of the professors were sitting around him. I took a seat and listened to what was going on. Everyone, including his mother, continued to ask Danny “why” he had allowed himself to get in his current situation. The people in the room were waiting for his response. Danny was not ever going to answer them as I learned when he was a toddler. My initial thought was to join in and try to get him to answer, however I caught myself and asked to let me have a word. The look of the people in the room was as if to say “NOW YOU’RE GOING TO GET IT DANNY”, which I found both out of place and amusing.

I looked at Danny and I apologized for the way in which the meeting was being handled, and for making him feel worse than he was already feeling. Then I said, “This meeting was scheduled by people who care about you and are only trying to see how we can help you move forward and graduate with the rest of your classmates”. After Danny acknowledged that in fact he did care and would like to graduate with his classmates, I directed myself toward the educators and told them, “We “shouldn’t be punishing the past, but instead look towards the future and what we can do to help him meet his and everyone’s goal”.

Danny then looked up at me in amazement/confusion. He started to come up with ideas about working after school or weekends to earn extra credit. I mentioned that this would potentially keep him from having to attend summer school, which he had made very clear he did not want to go through. His professors then chimed in agreeing that this meeting was to help him move forward and also began to come up with several ideas. Even with all this, the counselor informed us that Danny probably wouldn’t graduate on stage but that he could graduate without the need to attend summer school. Danny, with much confidence, told us that he would not be attending summer school and that he would make an effort to graduate on stage.

I then asked the question, “How would his ADHD label assist him in this situation”? The response I received from all his professors was a look of confusion. All but the counselor and his mother were aware of the label??? I then demanded that the label be taken away and Danny chimed in very enthusiastically in agreement!

In the end and with a lot of hard work and determination, Danny not only graduated without having to attend summer school but he did so on stage!

On a personal note I truly believe that what really made the difference was something that I learned in The Mandt System which is “Not to punish the past, but instead focus on changing the future in order to reach our goals”.

Just before the situation took place I was trained and certified as a Mandt instructor. This was the reason for my reflection in the meeting with Danny and his professors.

Shared by – Jorge Preciado from Jay Nolan Center CA (Original Article:

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