by Lianne Castelino www.whereparentstalk.com
In the three final months before our second son says goodbye to the school he has known for five years and heads off to high school, I have given more and more thought to this question. Coincidentally, it is also a topic that seems to be coming up quite frequently among parents I know. It ties into the umbrella theme of helping our 13-year-old son prepare a 'strategy' for himself that will support him in not only learning and growing but thriving in his new environment — you remember that place of many classes, a slew of teachers, schedules, peer pressure, competing deadlines, mature and immature thoughts, hormone overload, demanding demands. Remember?
Having the experience of our oldest son, who has been in high school for two years, we have learned many a lesson. While helpful, both boys are vastly different from each other — night and day. However, the basic principles remain the same. The main tenet by which my husband and I have shaped our parenting style on is — 'don't do for your kids what they can do for themselves' — a concept that borders on militancy by today's standards. Not always a popular nor easy approach to follow through on, but one that has worked for us.
In high school, everything goes up several notches. The responsiblity, workload, expectations, demands. The parenting approach should also reflect this new world, in my opinion. Parenting a child succeed is probably easier than watching him or her fail. I say probably because getting a child to reach his or her potential can be an exhausting task, allbeit worth the effort. It's the failure though, the adversity, the bitter disappointment through which true lessons are learned. In a world of instant gratification, instant results, heightened competition, increased exposure to everything, more access to knowledge —- letting a child be accountable for their actions, learning from missed deadlines, a sub-par effort, less than 100% motivation — is a challenge for parents, but in the end, dare I say, worth it.
I could and would never be the parent who calls my child's teacher to negotiate marks, to have them re-take a test, to babysit their homework — not in elementary, high school or university. It has never been our style, nor will it ever be. Tough? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely. They have to learn.
Many parents these days don't want to say no to their kids, don't want to let their kids fail, don't wish their kids to ever experience frustration or disappointment. Which parent willingly would? But, if it happens, let it, let them learn from it and grow.
IF NOT, we are going to produce young adults who won't be able to navigate adversity, adults who will want to be rescued, who will let failure ruin rather than enrich them.
As a prominent athlete recently said in a profile I watched, 'losers find excuses, winners find solutions'. So darn true.
Building resilience in a child is what it is called these days, and it has never been more important for parents to help their kids do just that.
It doesn't happen overnight. However, the results, apparently, last a lifetime.