At the last District Parent Advisory Council meeting in West Vancouver, our Trustee Liaison, Cindy Dekker, shared her reflections as a parent whose youngest of two daughters graduates this year, having been in our school system for the last 15 years. The straight talk was great and while some of the passion is lost without the presentation, the ideas are worth sharing with a larger audience.
She opened by acknowledging the key role that other parents played in her role as a parent raising her girls — a network of mentors. She also emphasized the influence of Barbara Coloroso as a parenting expert worth following.
Cindy’s talk focussed on three key ideas: school work, phones and communication, and finances.
On School Work:
- let your kids fail, and let them do it at a young age so they learn what they need to do to improve
- sometimes, when they forget their lunch, they need to solve the problem on their own
- help facilitate studying, but don’t do their homework for them
- don’t close any doors — encourage your kids to take a range of courses
- don’t be so worried about the “right” school, all schools are great
On Phones and Communicating:
- I bought a phone for my daughter, so it was mine, and if I called them they had to pick up — it was the rule
- the home is command central
- when your kids go to a party, call the parents and talk to them about the event and the supervision
- you meet some great parents when you connect with them over the parties they are hosting for kids
- always get the information you need from your kids before they leave the house
- financial literacy does not only need to be taught at school, but in the home as well
- giving allowance is great — it teaches kids about responsibility and about purchasing errors, buyers remorse and the value of charity giving
- encourage your kids to get a job and understand the value of money before they are on their own
We spend lots of time working with, and listening to, experts in the field, but parenting is one area where we usually also have a lot of real-life, lived experience and expertise in the room.
Cindy closed with a couple poems that she has had on her fridge for many years:
By Cleo V. Swarat
I dreamed I stood in a studio
And watched two sculptors there,
The clay they used was a young child’s mind
And they fashioned it with care.
One was a teacher:
the tools she used were books and music and art;
One was a parent
With a guiding hand and gentle loving heart.
And when at last their work was done,
They were proud of what they had wrought.
For the things they had worked into the child
Could never be sold or bought!
And each agreed she would have failed
if she had worked alone.
For behind the parent stood the school,
and behind the teacher stood the home!
You were six months old and full of fun.
With a blink of my eye, you were suddenly one.
There were so many things we were going to do,
But I turned my head and you turned two.
At two you were very dependent on me,
But independence took over when you turned three.
Your third birthday, another year I tried to ignore,
But when I lit the candles, there weren’t three, but four.
Four was the year that you really strived.
Why, look at you now, you’re already five.
Now you are ready for books and for rules.
This is the year that you go to school.
The big day came, you were anxious to go.
We walked to the bus; going oh, so slow.
As you climbed aboard and waved goodbye,
I felt a lump in my throat and tears stung my eyes.
Time goes by so fast, it’s hard to believe
That just yesterday you were here home with me.
And tomorrow when the bus brings you home and when you jump to the ground,
You’ll be wearing your cap and graduation gown.
So I’m holding on to these moments as hard as I can,
Because the next time I look, I’ll be seeing a man.
Parenting is messy and it is nice to be reassured that others share their stories and their lessons.