Parents and students are allies, not friends
Now, I can already hear some of you flinch at that statement. You may be the type of parent that is genuinely friends with their child. Hear me out – that title is not insinuating that you’re wrong!
I’ll give you an example to illustrate – the example of my wonderful mother. She is the strongest, bravest, and kindest woman I know. She has achieved incredible things throughout her life, worked harder than almost anyone I know, and is one of my strongest supporters. I will easily go out shopping with her like I would my friends, or have coffee while chatting about our lives. We’re not just family – we’re genuinely friends. Best friends, even!
However, when it came to my school work, my mother did not budge on things.
She and my father were consistently motivating me to achieve my absolute best, and strive for the highest grade possible. They were understanding when I failed – but they never accepted defeat. If I was slacking off, my parents would push me and tell me exactly what I needed to hear. Often, it wasn’t what I wanted to hear – but it was absolutely necessary for me to get that push through the pain towards success.
It is absolutely possible, therefore, to be both a friend and an ally to your child. As a parent, you are responsible for navigating the difference when it comes to education. It’s a tricky situation, and can often go too far in one direction. This is where you being to have boundary issues.
Note that neither boundary type is good. Being too much of a friend in your child’s educational journey will result in vague boundaries – being too strict will make them feel restricted. The balance is not easy – but it is vital, and achievable.
The first thing to note in being your child’s ally is that communication is absolutely key. Remember what I said in the last point, about being a team with your child and their teacher? A team works best when all parties are aware of all elements surrounding them – their hopes, goals, strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, and so on. It is up to you as a parent to sit down with your child, and discuss all of these elements with them. Not only will this build a positive parental relationship with them, but it will also help you recognise how to work with them in their educational journey.
From there, you can identify a student’s skill set. This is important, as it is the tools that your student has to tackle the educational world. Take it from me – school is not easy. In fact, it can be an absolute battle sometimes! Therefore, it is important to establish communications with your child, and recognise what exact weapons they have in their skill set to tackle that battle.
You will notice gaps from here. As their commander, you can see your child’s weaknesses – you as a parent then work to develop in them. As they grow and stretch themselves, their skill set will expand. Don’t be afraid to then build it further!
Don’t be afraid, either, when your child fails. You set the precedent as a parent as to how to react to failure. If you have established an intrinsic motivation process, and the students have slacked off in their effort, then you address it – never attack it. If their effort is there, but the achievement was not, then you are able to address additional factors, or bring in a trained A Team tutor to assist in the situation.
It is also your responsibility as a parent help change the way your child thinks as a student. If you are their friend in life, that’s fine – but you must be their ally in education. Explaining this to them will result in a mutual understanding and respect.
“Excellent!” I hear you say. “My job in this area is done!”
Besides keeping this ally/ally relationship strong, your additional responsibility is helping your child understand that their teachers are also their ally. Students can very often have quite a negative view towards their teachers, and it will affect their education negatively.
Sit down with your child and outline every support branch in their team. Chat to them about their feelings towards their teachers, and show understanding and support – but motivate them to cultivate a positive relationship. Remind your child that you are their ally, and that their teacher, therefore, must also be their ally.
Don’t be afraid to do the same to their teachers! Book that parent/teacher interview, and sit down with their other ally. Remind them that they are, in fact, your beloved child’s ally, not their commander. Establishing a positive relationship with the teacher, and giving them the responsibility to help support your child, will provide exponential improvement on your child’s school life.
Check in soon to read our next strategy about managing your child positively!