What Kids Need: Parents to Keep Track

As a school administrator for many years, at any one time, I was working with around 700+ kids.  I would look at their attendance, grades, and all aspects of their school life that I could, along with my other duties.  When I would call for a student/parent conference for truancy, for example, I would provide copies of their grades, attendance records, and any disciplinary referrals that I had received.  So often, after looking at all this data, much of it for the first time, they would look at me and say, “If he misses one more class, call me.”  Astonished, I would reply, “Sure, I’m happy to do that. I’ll put him on my list of kids that I track.”  But I often thought, what about you tracking your student?  You have one child at this high school, and I have 700 to track.  Kids need parents to track them to check on them to find out if something doesn’t sound right.  By following up on what kids say, what they do, and by paying attention to those automated calls, the kids know that they aren’t likely to get away with something for long, if at all.  With all the availability of online, attendance, discipline, grade books, homework sites and the like, it just takes a parent to make an interest in their child enough to take the time to be sure they are doing their best.

Kids can quickly sink into the default mode of not trying, or just giving up, and then a parent is surprised when grades come out.  You shouldn’t be surprised; there isn’t any reason for it.  Now think of all the time that you have put into your child, all the decisions, all the teaching, and of course, all the money.  Now isn’t the time to relax and get tired.  No doubt that being a parent is difficult.  It takes time, effort, and consistency for sure.  But the result of having a child that is kind, productive, and consistent is something that you can enjoy for the rest of your life.  I think that many parents, particularly by high school, get tired of being a parent.  They feel less inclined to enforce the standards of behavior, grades included.  The kids notice this immediately and often think, hey, they don’t care, it doesn’t matter, it’s no big deal, they won’t do anything.  No, you want to be so consistent that as soon as the dawn the door after school, they know that you know.

Another approach to this is to ensure that your kids and their friends feel invited to come into your home.  Make your house a beautiful place for kids to enjoy being with others.  You will learn a bit about them and be able to see first hand what kind of person your child is choosing.  When your kids know that you are great with them having their friends over, it helps them feel comfortable with your standards as well.  All around by having parents who pay attention to making their home inviting, the kids will enjoy a healthy relationship with their parents.

I challenge you today to renew your efforts to keep track of your child and all their doings.  To follow-up with a phone call when they say, I wasn’t truant, I was just tardy.  Oh, really?  I would reply, let’s make a phone call to your assistant principal or the child’s counselor.  Your child will learn quickly that you’re on top of things and most of all that you want the best for them.

Yours for Better Parenting,

Rich