Dear Amy: My son is a very sweet and kind 12-year-old who likes all of his seventh-grade classmates, but he does not have an outgoing personality.
Last week, the teacher asked all of the students to write the names of their classmates who were “leaders,” and those leaders would be given a pizza party.
After the students turned in their lists, the teacher announced the results.
All of the students in the class made “the cut,” except for three students.
My child was devastated at being excluded.
I wonder what kind of message this was sending.
With mental health problems becoming more prevalent, children with low self-esteem could become a victim of this kind of teaching.
At a minimum, children should not be made to feel bad about themselves.
Please print my letter so other teachers will consider their poor
— Sad Colorado Mother
Dear Sad: This sort of popularity contest among seventh-graders should not be initiated by a teacher. Adolescents get enough of that subjective judging everywhere else. They are quite literally surrounded by it.
While talking to children about leadership qualities is important, in my opinion this teacher is displaying poor leadership skills herself, because she is delivering a dispiriting, rather than inspiring, message that in all probability bewilders and embarrasses all of the “leaders,” as well as the excluded.
Not to mention the fact that, if a class has 30 children and 27 of them are “leaders,” this seriously devalues the whole notion of leadership.
I hope the three who were excluded can take some pride in the fact that they are in such an exclusive group!
We are inspired by lessons in leadership – both historically, and in everyday life. Children should be taught to identify the leadership qualities in themselves, as well as in others, and be encouraged to always strive to embody these positive qualities in their own lives.
And as much as everybody loves a pizza party, pizza actually cheapens the notions of integrity, bravery, and simple loving kindness that true leaders convey.
The real praise (and prize) should go to the child who experiences this, but rejects the whole notion, and understands it as being as shallow and flimsy as a soggy slice.
Dear Amy: My wife has asked for a divorce, and I’m not fighting it. In essence, she wants to be with other people, and that’s that.
I’m not begging her to stay and go to therapy, because at some point if you love someone you want them to be happy, even if that means being happy without you. That’s what I am trying to do.
Here’s the kicker: She is angry with me for feeling sad about the divorce.
She says that my sadness makes her sad, and this is where I feel at a loss for what I’m supposed to do or say.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think it’s absurd to feel happy that she loved me, and that we were together, and sad that the relationship is ending. I don’t understand how she expects those things to suddenly not matter to me when I lose them.
I don’t see how I can be wrong to feel internally sad about losing someone’s love and losing a relationship, but that’s how she’s making me feel – as if I am in the wrong.
It feels like she’s asking me to strive for some relationship ideal of committing but not really caring how things turn out.
Am I missing something here?
– Not Supposed To Feel Sad?
Dear Sad: The only thing you’re missing here is the central and also the toughest lesson to be gleaned from a heart-rending breakup: Your partner no longer gets to voice an opinion about your emotions.
The person initiating the breakup often wants to relieve their own guilt by insisting that this is really the best course for their partner.
Your wife is angry because your sadness reminds her of what she has done.
Go ahead and let your sadness spill over, if you want to.
Dear Amy: “Just Like My Mom” wrote to you that she is a “perfectionist,” who can’t go to sleep until she has completed tasks around the house.
Although you gave your usual thoughtful and supportive response, HELLO, Amy, this woman has OCD!
Dear Disappointed: It’s not wise for me to speculate and try to diagnose people, especially someone who is already seeing a therapist, as this writer was.
However, my readers show no such hesitation.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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