Thursday, September 15, 2011


I remember a woman teacher who had an obvious low self-esteem. Other teachers would say, "She has so much capability but she holds herself back." I talked, informally, with her and found out that she had siblings who were very successful. She felt that she couldn’t measure up to them. She even made the comment that she was the “black sheep” of the family. 

Her parents practiced autocratic parenting and didn't tolerate average grades and stressed total excellence in every endeavor the children pursued. "Climb to the top" was their motto and each child was expected to become adults who were very well off financially. Apparently, not well-off emotionally. She, nor her successful siblings, never experienced unconditional love (true love, I call it). Her folks actually looked down on her teaching profession because she didn't make enough money to live in a plush home set in a ritzy neighborhood.

 "This 'factory assembly line' approach to parenting, where individual differences among siblings isn't accepted, has marked many children with emotional scars that they carry around today as adults. They still have their parent's fingerprints all over them."
I assured this capable but under performing teacher that the Natural Order dictated before birth that she wouldn’t be like her brothers or sisters, or like any one else on earth. How we are created ordains this fact, so we should strive to find, and be, ourselves. We didn’t arrive on planet earth by serendipity means.

By metaphysical design, millions of sperm cells, each which would have to be magnified a thousand times for our eyes to behold, struggled to reach an egg that was smaller than the point of a needle. Only one survived, while millions of its challengers weakened and perished in the struggle. One grappling sperm cell, out of millions, made each of us! It, miraculously, bonded with an egg containing a tiny nucleus.

The Natural Order dictates that everyone is born to be a unique champion. I suggested she refrained from defining her worth via comparison with siblings and recommended she seek an impartial, professional counselor who could help her unearth her incomparable uniqueness.

As a school psychologist at the time, I did notice her ability to relate to children (She taught 3rd grade). Teaching is 2/3 art form and 1/3 academic preparation. She had the art form part down pat. I encouraged her, along with the principal, to forget the emotional baggage her parents stuffed into her head and focus on becoming the best teacher she could possibly be. 

Today, she is a professional teacher who is revered by many parents of the children she's presently teaching and by past students who are now adults. She has forgotten about being labeled a "black sheep" years ago by her parents.

The term "black sheep" is so derogatory and I don't know why black sheep symbolize worthlessness. After all, the wool on a black sheep is just as warm and cuddly as that on a white sheep. Maybe shepherds despised them because their fleeces couldn't be dyed like those of white sheep. 

Just for fun, I looked up "black sheep" in the Folk-Lore Record, 1878, where there is a contradictory and long-standing English country tradition that black sheep are omens of good fortune. The Folk-Lore Record, 1878, included this piece:

This woman, this "black sheep", has a naturally-imposed uniqueness from her siblings that intended by design the moment this microscopic struggle began. This sperm, and its egg, contained 24 chromosomes, each wrapped in Jell-O like beads strung together. Each bead housed hundreds of genes.

The bonding fused her parent’s ancestral past. One healthy and victorious sperm bonded with one expectant egg, both conquerors of millions of years of human-kind’s battle for survival. This unbeaten bonding couldn’t possibly have created a “black sheep”.
"We speak figuratively of the one black sheep that is the cause of sorrow in a family; but in its reality it is regarded by the Sussex shepherd as an omen of good luck to his flock."
So there! You're an omen of good luck! From here on, you will be the best you can at whatever you're doing. Do the best you can, with what you've got, at this point in time. Stop trying to prove your parents and siblings are wrong. You don't need financial renumeration for all the heart aches others threw into your need emotional renumeration.

And, my teacher friend did just that! She got that renumeration by reaching out to children and parents who were aching just like she was. She was more than an underpaid teacher (Her school district was broke)- she was a mentor, counselor, and guardian as well. She invested her time putting emotional deposits into other people's emotional bank accounts and has received emotional interest payments back in return.

Enjoy the song by John Anderson: "The Black Sheep of the Family"

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of School Psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership & Policy Studies at Bowling Green State Univeristy. A portion of Ad sale revenue from this site is donated to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. Questions? Comment? Concerns about family, parenting, educational or personal concerns? Contact him on the secure Bpath Mail Form.