In my psychology practice, I am often asked by parents, “What is the best school for my child?”

The children with whom I work, by and large, are not well suited to your typical school. I could tell the parents what qualities that I think would be best for their children, but the truth is, for most families, the ideal doesn’t exist. Consequently, I respond by asking about constraints.

“What is your neighborhood school?”
(Schools should be comparable across the area, but unfortunately, that is far from the case. And I’m not just talking about limited availability of good public schools in low income areas. I’m talking about limited availability of good public schools in ANY area of my city. But there are some.)

“Is private school an option?”

“How do you feel about religious schools?”
(There are a number of religious schools in the area that do a good job of providing a nurturing but structured environment. Also, of private schools, the religious one charge less money than the secular schools.)

“How far are you willing to drive your child to school?”

In other words, before I say, “Your child’s ideal school environment would include x, y, and z”, I narrow things down to the most attainable options.

I do this for two reasons. First, it is a very practical approach. Secondly, it is far less discouraging.  We could go on endlessly about the characteristics of a “perfect” school only  to discover that it simply does not exist.

No one likes a “dead end”. We like the idea of endless possibility. However, knowing the dead ends, the improbabilities, and the impracticalities, can stop us from spinning in a life of too many options, many of which are false ones.

There are dead ends in my own life. There is no longer the option of “I will live my life as if there is an unlikely chance that something REALLY bad might happen.”

REALLY bad things have already happened.  Scary, awful things.

Knowing that this way of thinking is a dead end in my life is sad but it is also liberating. Knowing what I can’t do makes some of the choices simpler, in a way.

Today, I choose to live the best life that I can within the constraints that define me as an imperfect human being.

Today, my life is pretty darned good.