From the Principal’s Desk – 18 May, 2017
This past week, I have had several discussions with numerous parents about the many challenges that they are experiencing in raising their children. Some of the topics of conversation have included; conflicting fears when trying to figure out if they are doing too much or too little, making the right choices for their families, knowing when to allow their children to fail or being there to shield their children from the world or “save” them when they fall.
Despite not having children of my own, I have had 21 years watching many thousands of parents in their respective roles, which has offered me some insight into the role and importance of parenting. I think it is safe to say that there is pretty much nothing that I have not seen in my educational career.
- I have seen:
The “overbearing parent” who pushes their child to achieve way beyond what is appropriate for their age,
- The “helicopter parent” who hovers over their child to such an extent that they remove the possibility for any child to learn how to make their own mistakes and more importantly how to overcome them,
- The “anything goes parent” who believes that their child should try everything out there, even if some of these activities are harmful or illegal,
The “absent parent” who is never fully there or present for their child.
I have also seen the:
- “single parent” who works hard to ensure that although they may be doing it on their own, their child lacks for nothing (and I am not talking about the material things)
- “present parent” who does what they can to make sure that they are there to watch, encourage and support their child from the sidelines (be it with school work or extra-curricular activities)
- “role model parent” who believes that their actions speak louder than words, trying to be the best possible positive role model for their child.
Whatever the type of parent (and I am sure there are many more), it is clear that sometimes there are no clear guidelines on how to raise a child, there is no manual on how to deal with the considerable “interesting” situations you will face as a parent and at times – yes, you may feel like you don’t know what you are doing.
Having the incredible privilege (and yes despite the challenges it remains just that) of watching kids develop and grow over the years, I feel that I can most certainly say that there are some things which remain paramount when raising a child:
- Open Communication is key – children need to know that they can come to you, no matter what! Open and honest dialogue free from condemnation and fear is important
- Accountability is essential – children need to know their boundaries and where that line in the sand is. It is those shifting of the goal posts that cause confusion and angst for any child, but more importantly, understanding that all of our actions have consequences (good or bad) is an important life lesson you should not take away from your child.
- Partner with the School – the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” most certainly rings true. See your child’s teachers and the school as “partners” and not adversaries when dealing with any issue. We are all in this together and positive collaboration between Parent and School will ultimately benefit the child
- Be the parent and not their friend – for their childhood and teenage years (and maybe even into their early young adult years), children need guidance, a moral compass, a gate keeper and a safe environment provided by you; friendships will come in due course and they will be so much richer in time
In my experience, the families and children who have progressed well through their school years are the ones who have applied at least these 4 attributes to their parenting arsenal. So many times I have stated that being a parent is the hardest job in the world but the most encouraging thing is this – you are not alone, and the entire experience is one of the most amazing journey’s that anyone can undergo. Like you, many of the HBIS staff and myself want nothing less than to see all of our students grow and develop into confident and competent individuals who can take their place on the world stage and make a difference and contribution in whatever area they may one day find themselves in.