The need for parents to once again accept accountability for their own children is paramount. The following is Part 2 of the Common Core Standards for Parents. Again, please feel free to add your own standards below in the comments section.
1. Do not live vicariously through your children.
So many times I hear dads talking about their son's sporting event as if it were them on that field. We have dance moms and cheer moms that are taking their 6 and 7 year old daughters and painting their faces for competitions. Now I am not opposed to extra-curricular activities. What I am opposed to is seeing parents get upset with their child when they don't score 6 goals that day or when their daughter does not execute a perfect performance. As a principal, it saddens me when the students tell me that they really don't enjoy the activity but their parents make them go because their mom or dad used to participate in the same activity when they were young. Parents--You had your chance when you were a child. Give your children the chance to find their own passion. It may not be the same as yours, but how will you know if you are drowning them in what you think they like. If your child tells you they do not enjoy the activity, listen and evaluate your decision. Have you been pushing this on them? If you have, it is OK to change.
2. Be their parent first, friend second.
Discipline is always a hot topic with parents. When I tell my parents that I am going to do a presentation on discipline, the room is standing room only. If I had to say what the most common problem was that parents face with discipline, it would be that they do not want to offend their child, hurt their child's feelings, or otherwise have the child mad at them. You must remember that you are the parent first. It is your job to choose consequences for your child so that they learn from their errors and will not make the same mistake twice.
It needs to be understood that there is a difference between a consequence and punishment. A punishment does not necessarily come with an education and a lesson. A consequence should teach the child about right and wrong and how that applies to what they did wrong. A consequence takes time and effort. Sadly, some parents just punish and never get to the teaching part. The child misbehaves again and the parents are stunned as to why they would do the same thing twice. It is because you did not take the time to teach them about what they did wrong and how to avoid the situation next time.
Here is a statement I use often when discussing discipline: As a parent, I love my child. The consequences I give my child for his infraction will probably break my heart too. When they cry because of their consequence I will be crying inside as well because we never want to hurt our children. We establish consequences for our children because we love them. We want to teach them right from wrong. I tell my son that because I love you, I have to give you consequences for your actions.
3. Do what YOU know is best for your child, not what the child thinks is best.
Nothing upsets me more than when I am in a meeting with parents and a critical decision must be made and they say," I need to ask my child". No! Wrong! You are the parent and you need to make decisions for your child. The child does not have the experience or the maturity to make important decisions about academics etc. Sure, there are times the child can be included in decision making. Actually that is a great practice for parents to implement. Where to go to dinner? Which movie to watch tonight? These are all great opportunities for parents to let the children stretch their decision making skills. Should the child be retained? Should we test the child for special services? These are parental decisions.
Also, don't always take the easy way out when it comes to doing the right thing for your child. Yes, your child would probably pick video games and TV over a good book or an arts and crafts activity. But, parents know the value of reading and the power of the arts. These are those types of decisions that must be addressed by the parent early and often.
4. Get involved in your child's education at school.
It is frustrating as an administrator when parents know nothing about their child's academic life. It is even more frustrating when that child needs academic help and we must go to the parents to discuss options and then they realize they know nothing about their child's life in school. It even gets worse when it becomes obvious that they don't entirely care either. If you want to get involved in your child's education, pick up the phone and call the teacher. Be proactive and call the school. It is your right as a parent to ask questions. You are the only advocate for your child so be that advocate. For those of you that work.... Email! In the age of technology there is no reason to not reach out to your school and say, "Hi, I want to know how my child is doing in school."
5. Your children must come first over anything else in your life. They are your priority.
Given the demands in our society today, we have a tendency to reorder our priorities. Our work, our careers, even membership in our clubs start to take precedence over attending our children's events or getting involved in the school's volunteer programs or more importantly spending that quality, quiet time with our children. That which is best for the positive development of our children must come first. Your life will be judged based on the quality of what you leave behind... namely your children. Let's plan to leave behind healthy, well-adjusted children, secure in the knowledge that they are loved by their parents more than anything else in this world.