xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement

Be kind to your kids' teachers, and other parenting advice

School's out for me. As I approach the final days of 30-plus years of teaching, I realize that now that I am in my early 60s, the parents of the children I am now teaching could be my grandchildren. I had my own children later, and they don't have children yet, but the parents of my students are young enough that I feel more than just one generation gap.

Before I leave teaching to begin a new chapter in my life, I would like to give these parents some advice.

Advertisement

First of all, spend time with your children, and I don't mean playing video games or watching movies together; don't kid yourself that those things count for much. I mean time in conversation and doing things like cooking, gardening, board games, visiting events and museums — anything that requires you to talk and listen to each other. Eat meals together with no television or devices around. Read together. Draw together. Build things together. You have so much to give them and less time than you think to give it. But mostly just talk — and listen — to each other. They are only little once. I know, my sons were once two wonderful little human beings that I loved to be with but too quickly they grew into men. They are still wonderful, but the wonder of childhood with them is gone forever — distant memories. You can't get that time back. Stages of development are short in children. Their brains grow and change, but only up to a point, and the window for influence and experience closes quickly.

Second, learn to say "no" to your children. They will not suffer psychological harm or deprivation. You have the power to teach them the lessons only disappointment can bring. The absolute power of delayed gratification is yours to give and a gift that will take them though life and build resilience. Only you can do this for them. You can make them strong or weak. Help them bear their disappointments. Make them understand that not getting an A is not the end of the world, that some things are not worth the money and that if you want something you have to work for it. Help them work, and help them wait. It is not painless but there is a payoff. It may be the hardest thing you ever do. Don't deprive them of the experience of waiting. Their emotional development depends on it, and it has to happen during childhood.

Advertisement

Third, be kind to their teachers. Remember that technology is only a tool. Embrace it but be wary of it. Your child's teachers have a life at home, children of their own, responsibilities for aging parents, a spouse who is ill and things they need to take care of. Not to mention "R&R" which the brain needs to recharge and reboot to unleash the creativity you want them to have for their lessons. You should not expect a quick answer ever to a complicated question, for the questions about achievement and development usually require a thoughtful and reflective answer. Nothing just "takes a minute." Do not send an email with a long-winded message, and never write one when you are upset. Often a face to face conference is so much more effective. Nuances are lost in emails, and without body language to grab clues from, people can quickly feel offended when no offense was intended. Be patient with the teachers; their jobs are so hard, and your child is only one of so many they must attend to.

Also remember this: Being upset is a part of child rearing. And when they are teenagers, if you have not embarrassed your children a time or two, you didn't do your job. It is hard work, the hardest you will ever do. You will never regret doing the hard things. Work at it because I promise you, your gratification will come someday, and it is worth more than gold. Finally, love them and believe in them and tell them that you do — and say it often.

Anne Groth is a retiring Baltimore County Public Schools teacher. Her email is agroth@bcps.org and she blogs at teachingafter60.wordpress.com.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement