Parenting & Child Development
Parenting affects how kids grow up in so many ways. It might be how they choose to handle a complex, stressful situation or spend time with their kids reading. The kids are always watching and learning to model just how their parents model. There are other influences, such as other kids they associate with within the school and adults who engage in their lives in various ways. These other adults can significantly influence kids and how they handle situations and offer support. Kids also have individual personalities that shape and change their interactions and development. Their involvement in competitive sports or music can also have a significant influence. As a former teacher of 17 years and a high school band director, I biasedly admit that the music kids are all around pretty good kids with whom to be associated. The kids involved with music and sports have an unparalleled dedication to excellence, perseverance, and problem-solving. You can’t, for example, play an instrument proficiently without a certain amount of self-discipline and commitment. It is the same with developing ability in sports; it takes years without shortcuts.
Another of my roles was that of a school administrator of 16 years. Over the years of working with kids and parents, I would see parents who over-engage with their kids and many who under-engage with them. It is possible to be over-involved with kids. During a child-parent conference, I would notice that when I asked the child a question, the parent would parrot a response. After a few times, I would stop them and ask the child to form an answer. Often, they would discover something their child said that they didn’t know. They might respond with, “You don’t feel that way?” The child would say something like, ” yes, mom,” and then fill them in with some detail. An exciting dialogue would ensue. Suffice it to say you can over-supervise your child.
A parent can also under-supervise their child, sometimes trusting them more than they should. As a school administrator, truancy is the most common issue. The auto-dialer system calls home and reports that their child has missed one or more classes. When the parent or I should say, if the parent asks the child about their attendance, they would frequently respond, “Oh, I was just late to class.” The parent accepts that explanation; it seems like a possibility, and we all want to believe the best about our kids. But in actuality, we need to press further and ask more questions. Questions like, “How late were you?” “Why were you late?” When a parent pins a child down, they quickly learn that parents are on to them. As a parent, I would also suggest that you be aware of the school’s policy on how many minutes a child can be late to class and be marked truant. For our school, it is seven minutes. Beyond that, even if they show up, they are marked truant. Policies vary, and there aren’t any perfect ones, this one included. This follow-up is just an example of how to be more involved in your child’s day.
When parents over-parent, kids become reliant on their parent’s judgment for everything and do not develop the ability to make sound decisions and lead their own lives. When they make a decision that isn’t sound, allow them to make a mistake. On the other hand, when parents are under-involved in Parenting, the kids begin to rely on peers and others of who you may disapprove. An authoritative parenting style can also push a child to look to peer groups for answers.
I know that Parenting is a balance between trust and verification and allowing kids to lead their own lives and make mistakes. Allowing the child some freedom is a part of the growing-up process and will enable them to develop their own GPS inner guidance system.
Tenacity is also a part of persistence; read my post here Parenting & Tenacity – Dr. Rich Patterson (pattersonphd.com)
Here are some Positive Parenting Tips from the CDC Positive Parenting Tips | CDC
For parents who are struggling with Mesothelioma and how to talk with their kids, here is a link from my friend Brian Basham, an Advocacy Associate with Mesothelioma Hope: Talking To Children About Cancer – Tips For Parents and Caregivers (mesotheliomahope.com) These is an important skill set for parents that discusses how adults can talk to their children regarding a family member or friend having cancer.
Yours for Better Parenting,