Part of my free time is spent working with young people which is something that I truly enjoy and it gives me great pleasure to see them succeed when they put forth effort and work hard to attain a goal. Sometimes my “help” ends up being in the form of an editor, or a coach, at times a cheerleader but most of the time I find myself being a counselor and listening to them. It is perfectly clear to me that not only are young people finding growing up much more difficult than it was for you and I, especially because of the lure of social media. But mostly they want someone to not only pay attention and listen to them and cheer them on, but they also are longing for someone to set some boundaries for them.
It sounds crazy doesn’t it? That a child would actually want someone to draw a line in the sand and make them accountable probably is the complete opposite of what we as parents think they want. Any young person who will grow into a well-adjusted adult needs to hear the word “no” in their ears from time to time. It shows we care about them and also are involved in what is going on in their lives. No matter how many times we are subjected to eye rolls, foot stomping and that wonderful phrase “You’re the worst parent ever!” our children really are paying attention to us and learning from our example.
Another of my duties is to read through applications for awards and scholarships. It is very disturbing to me the disparage I see in the ability of students to write the thoughts in their heads down in complete and understandable sentences and paragraphs with correct punctuation and grammar. I have literally banged my head against the table when I read through the essay answer of a student who can’t use the written language to convey their thoughts and instead write like they are texting someone. Granted the use of spell-check and a great editor helps keep this column understandable, but these same students are going to go off to college and the working world where the people in charge aren’t going to give them the wide berth they are used to in high school.
We have failed them, not as educators, but as parents. We believe our children are so perfect and that they never could be less than outstanding that we ignore not only the warning signs we see, but we get defensive when an educator is critical of our children. Now, stop for a moment and reread that last sentence and then take a moment and try to convince yourself that you’ve never gotten a little stand-off-ish when your child has been criticized by a teacher or a coach. It generally is not the fault of your child correct? Yeah, you and I both need to realize that those people who spend the majority of the time with our kids probably have a pretty good insight into what is going on in their lives if not in their minds.
So next time your confronted with information that is given to you which is intended to improve your child, take it to heart and know that your support will help them grow into young people you can be proud of. And while you’re at it, make sure the next time they ask you to go do something that sounds just a little too good to be true, give them a quick “no” and gauge their reaction. If nothing else it might be fun to have them sweat a little. See you next week…remember we’re all in this together.