I was in a group the other day and a high school guidance counselor mentioned that this year she had a rash of parents tell her that they (the parents) felt that it was “their job” to see to it that their children “are happy.”
Since that time I asked several others (teachers and counselors) and they also said that this year that seems to be “the parent mantra.” Time for my opinion, which I respect. This goes out to all of you helicopter, diaper sniffing parents that feel this way. YOUR JOB IS NOT TO ENSURE YOUR CHILD’S HAPPINESS. Not even the Constitution of this great country does any more than to proclaim that we all have the right to “pursue” happiness.
What all parents need to do, is provide a safe and nurturing environment where their child can grow up to be able to move on through life when they get old enough to do so.
I recall about a dozen or so years ago (it could be longer as I’ve found that as you get older time has a tendency to fly by faster), I was in a college class for teachers and the question was poised by the professor: “If you could give one gift to today’s students what would it be?”
As we went around the room each teacher giving their idealistic answer best suited for a love-In during the ’60s, it became my turn to speak. My answer was, “I would give all young people the right to the consequences of their actions.”
Much to my surprise the class responded with applause.
I have had parents call or email me regarding their child/my student’s grade, a missing assignment or whatever. I may have had that student in my class already that day and he/she made no mention of their (the student’s) grade. While I’m always happy to discuss things with a concerned parent, I can’t help but to wonder why the (high school) student hasn’t come to me themself. Learning to respectfully approach a teacher, or one day a boss, is something that a young adult should be able to do. It’s a life skill. We call it being assertive and it’s a very necessary life skill.
If you, the parent, could take the pain away from a dumb or ill conceived action by your child then you also take away “the lesson.” Doesn’t anybody understand this? We need to make mistakes. That’s how we learn. And if you, the parent, shelter your child from these lessons then he or she has learned nothing and will again, at a time when you’re not there, make the same mistake again.
Please don’t miss my point, I would rather have a bad heart or a cancer than either of my two children. That’s not what I am talking about. I am talking about the hurt that comes with a poor decision. I will be there to discuss this with them, but they need to feel the heat.
After all we won’t always be here for them (and usually during the teenage years they pull away from us), but our goal should be to allow them the opportunity to learn life’s lessons and be able to deal with them on their own and to one day be able to pass this lesson on to their children.