Every once in a while I will run across a piece of clothing that says “One size fits all.” Sometimes this is true while others…. Well, I just know that it is going to look very different on me than it will on someone else. It might “fit” but some times “fit” is a term that should be loosely defined.
“One size fits all” seems to be a concept that we, as a society, like. We like to think that a model can be used in most any situation to predict behavior, prescribe solutions, or fix problems. We look to bench marks and precedence provided by similar situations. Sometimes this works. Sometimes everything fits, reasonably well if not perfect. We don’t have the time to Taylor things to fit a given situation or the desire to be flexible – so we turn to the “One size fits all” adage and hope for the best.
But, it doesn’t always work.
When we are dealing with people – adults and children alike – what works for one situation or family might not work for another. What works in this divorce situation might not work in that one. This medication might work wonders for one patient while the same medicine doesn’t cure another. This schedule might work for one kid while another child will rebel. A learning plan works differently with all children – or does it? What heels one marriage might not heel another.
Yet, we try to use models. We try to fit our situation into a framework that worked for another. We turn to specialists who may or may not know all the facts but who can give us generalities as to what might work. And we ignore them when they suggest that flexibility is important because… we find safety in the models and the ideas that our situation is just like that of someone else. It is safe to have faith in the “one size fits all” idea.
A few months ago someone looked at my situation and commented that it was unusual... and no one truly knew what would happen or how the pieces would fall into place. Although a “one size fits all” framework was established, we recognized the singular nature of the situation and the unknown could or would come into play. Flexibility was suggested. It remains to be seen as to whether we can truly tailor the situation as necessary for the well being of everyone or if we will rely upon the model and force things to work even when they don’t.
But today, in our society, in our court system, in our work places, in our schools and families and hospitals… I have to wonder how much flexibility we truly allow?
There is safety in trusting a rigid schedule. There is control in relying upon that framework and attempting to force a square peg into the round hole. We want to know what to expect because we either don’t have the time or the empathy to allow for the flexibility truly required to Taylor a response to fit the situation. We don’t have the time or desire to revisit and regroup and rethink as time goes by. It is easiest to pretend that “one size fits all” and ignore the reality that it just doesn’t work that way.