Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Children learning to become adults (2017 Term 1 Week 6)

One of the themes that we need to remember, as both educators and parents, is that we are playing the long game. We are raising children to become adults. As I wrote last week, this is the goal that we need to keep in mind. The experiences that young people have at home and at school are formative; they shape the character and the capacities of the individual. It is a reasonable question for reflection on occasion: how is my parenting shaping my child?

I recently read a blog post on this topic: Quit Doing These 8 Things for Your Teen This Year if You Want to Raise an Adult. In the post, the writer identifies eight things that we should not be doing for our children as they grow.

  • Waking them up in the morning
  • Making their breakfast and packing their lunch
  • Filling out their paperwork
  • Delivering their forgotten items
  • Allowing their failure to plan to become your emergency
  • Doing all their laundry
  • Emailing and calling their teachers and coaches
  • Meddling in their academics
She unpacks each of these in the blog; it may be worth reading her thoughts if you find the bullet-points above provocative. For what it's worth, I can think of lots of other points that could be added, including:
  • Driving your children everywhere
  • Cooking and clearing up meals for them
Without wanting to endorse everything she suggests, I support the tenor of her post. I can reel off examples of each of these suggestions, from my own household, those of friends, and those of the school community. I remember one mother who was slogging away at her daughter's Mathletics account, because "She is so much more motivated when she is about to win something". Thankfully, this is (I believe) the exception rather than the rule.

Many parents are very happy to see their child experience the natural consequences of their actions. My favourite note from a parent read along the lines of "X did not do his homework last night because he was distracted by playing computer games. Treat him as you will!"

Obviously each family has its own dynamic and needs and parents will make the choices and decisions in these matters that seem best to them. There needs to be an age-appropriate staging around the responsibilities entrusted to students.

However, the point is a valuable one. At some point between infancy and adulthood, our children will need to learn to do these things without us. When and how do you plan to help your children grow into that responsibility?

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