Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It takes a village

In this day of cyber-bulling, shootings at schools, kids committing suicide, and all other manner of crazy behavior, we as parents have to be extra vigilant.  We have to make sure that we are doing everything we can to ensure a positive outcome for our kids.  I think all the threats we feel might harm our children we have no choice but to be hyper involved.

Some parents manage it by over-scheduling.  The thought process being if the kids are busy in some structured activity they don't have time for boys/girls, the internet, doing bad things, etc.  There is a fall out from that point of view, the kids get stressed out from being over committed and trying to cram too much in.  It is a lot of pressure.

Some parents manage it by helicoptering.  Fighting every battle they can for their kids.  That isn't good because then the kids never learn to manage things themselves.  Some parents ignore the kids, and let them manage on their own.  There really is no good answer. 

I know that I want to create responsible adults that are productive members of society.  My objective is that my kids are not a burden on say the prison system, or public assistance.  I want them to be able to fly solo and be in a position to complain about taxes.  I think most of us would agree that my goal is on point.

So, what do you do when it seems that some kid is causing your child distress?  Let's reference back to the above, people are afraid of all the scary things that go on in the school system and some parents are wack-a-doos.  How do you avoid having a difficult conversation with the parents?  You get the school involved.

Let me tell you, you may walk away feeling like you did the right thing but you didn't.  You didn't.  We need to put our big girl/boy panties on and deal with the parents.  The school is not the right place to take this kind of stuff, ESPECIALLY, if it happens outside the four walls of the school.  Once you have reached out to the parents, then and only then should you consider going to the school.  Really, that should only be done IF the call with the parents does not go well.

It is simple, you pick up the phone and you say, hello kids-mother/father, I am my-kids mother/father.  I just wanted you to know what your child has been saying/doing.  Explain what is happening.  Then end with saying, I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, kids will be kids, but I would want someone to tell me if it was in reverse.  If there is anything I can do to help you please let me know.  End the call.

In the event that the parent on the other end doesn't seem receptive, then tell the school.  You have done this family a service by telling them what the story is.  You handled the situation with class.  You will have taught your child a lesson about owning your behavior.  If the phone call does not go well, hey, shit happens, you tried.  Fine, let the school deal with it.

It is not safer to call the school, don't kid yourself that you can hide in anominity.  Your phone number, address and email are listed in the school directory.  You are only a google search away.  Frankly, given how much schools over-react these days, you may piss the other family off more.

I speak from experience.  I have a had a parent call me and I have had them call the school.  Sure as shit, getting that call from the other parent was top 10 most awkward experiences.  But, getting the same call from the school... so, so, so, much worse.  The fall-out from getting the school involved is unimaginable.

What lessons do you want to teach your kids?  Remember we want them to stay out of prison and pay taxes here.  We need to teach them that part of being responsible is owning your actions.  Part of owning your actions sometimes means doing a little dirty work.  Sometimes to show/teach compassion, you have to make that awkward call.

It is a hard decision, especially if you have never been in either situation.  You want to do the right thing, but what is it?  I am telling you here, put on your big boy/girl panties, be an adult and call the other family.

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