By Richard Hall | Posted: Thursday November 16, 2017
The expectations of the media and the difficulties of parenting were highlighted in the media today.
I agree with the sentiment of the article. This year there has been a definite increase in the amount of 'outside of school hours' issues that we are asked to sort.
But I thought the article fell short in one key area - the disintegration of the parent network. Remember when 'Richard' was 5 and you dropped him off or picked him up from school? You saw the same parents daily, the parents of the boys and girls your son spent most of the time with every day, his influences. Maybe it was some other activity, but my point is this, you used to know the parents. The people that were the key influences on the children who WERE some of your child's key influences. You knew what they looked like, you could say "Hi", you probably had a good idea of what they valued and how they parented. You could also make judgement calls on the connection of their values to yours.
Now, I bet, you don't have those connections. And your distance from your son's influences is rapidly getting wider. If you want to know why, have a look at his smartphone.
Why did you get him a smartphone, when all he needs a phone for is for calls and texts? As a school we have never said a phone is an appropriate learning device. Teachers let students use them, mainly because they have little choice. But if all smart phones were left at home we wouldn't cry.
Now through his smart phone, your son's influences are not only people and adults you have never met, but also people who don't even live in the same hemisphere. I am no expert, but I would think that it is not the people you know that encourage your child to send or share inappropriate images via that smart phone.
Solution. Fnd out who your son's close influences are, who he hangs around with and call them up. "Oh no," you say, "then our son will hate us and say we are uncool."
Well, you stopped being cool when you became a parent and if you believe you didn't, you are kidding yourself. The parents of boarders in our school do this much better. In the country areas people stop and talk, they converse, they expect that you want to talk to them. In town, we rush for the sake of rushing. Stop, talk, listen. It will be good for your health too.
If you don't know who your son's influences are, how can you be the leading influence in his life. And this to me is where it is getting harder for schools. We are expected to be the leading influences in his life. I believe this is a significant issue, but as a community it is easily and quickly fixed, we just have to go back to acting like a community.
Have a good weekend.