As my youngest child is completing her first year of high school I breathe a bit of a sigh of relief. Thankful for the reprieve of summer and the freedom it brings from the school system and all that it encompasses. Thankful that I developed the skills necessary to help my children navigate the hidden traps of the public school system, coming out the other side as empowered individuals.
Looking back to my introduction to parenting children within the public school system, I realize that I really couldn’t have understood what was to come as I sent my first born off to their first year in this system. We entered that phase of our lives with such excitement for the learning and growing that was to come. I couldn’t wait to see what my child would report at the end of a school day so that I could hear all about their amazing experiences throughout the day. I was excited to see what they would become passionate about, what subject would they fall in love with at school.
Unfortunately, this was not our experience at all.
While yes, my children did have amazing teachers in their school careers, they did form wonderful friendships and they did discover a lot that they didn’t know about the world through various assignments and projects. It was also a minefield. Each day I sent them to school and was never sure what the result would be at the end of the day. Would they come out those doors at the end of the hallway with a smile, or would they come out with a crumbled-up paper from a test that they might have failed and then left to feel like a failure themselves?
In my experience, most teachers really meant well. They really were trying to help my children. It’s just that we have very different ideas of what that means. When my middle child was 12 years old and in the eighth grade his teacher explained to me during a parent/teacher meeting, all of the ways that my son needed to change in order to be a successful student. She nicely explained to me that he needed to be able to sit still more, that he needed to put in more time studying for tests.
It was at that exact moment that I realized that we were speaking about two different children. She was speaking about my son the amazing student, where I was speaking about my son the amazing individual. You see, she had received years of training to mold children into “students” whereas I had spent many years ensuring that he knew he didn’t need to fit into a mold. That he was here for an enormous purpose in his life, that he was here to achieve greatness!
The task that I took on from the moment my first child went to school was to be their spokesperson. To ensure that they could come out the other side with their soul and spirit intact. I can tell you that was a huge undertaking, but of course was completely worth it.
What I learned from training that I have received through the Modern Mystery School has helped me to navigate parenthood and supported me in helping my children navigate the school system. Through what I learned in the Empower Thyself program I began to unwind what I thought parenting was about and was able to create a new model of parenting tailored to each individual child and what would best support them in their experiences in school and in life.
How did I set out to do that? Put the emphasis where it matters.
I ensured that my children understood that their actual grades in school were not linked to their self-worth. If they got good grades, terrific; however, if they didn’t that was ok too. Not everyone is good at taking tests, and that’s the primary way this school system figures out how to assign a mark to each student.
Put the focus on the future. What I did look at was how were they developing life skills. How did they do on things like responsibility, collaboration, independent study, work habits? How are they performing on things that are life skills? These are the things that matter more than the knowledge of types of triangles and how to measure them. If I can help them to cultivate an ability to be responsible, work well with others, take initiative then they will be able to go a long way in life. If in their adult life they need to know how to measure a triangle, then they can learn how to do that. If they do not succeed in school, this does not mean that they won’t be successful in life!
There is room for failure. You can fail and make mistakes, I will not judge you for it, but I will help you find a solution. Maybe that means to try again or maybe that means they need to try a different way, their own way. I want my children to know that they can always get back on their feet and keep going. They can accomplish anything. I’m at their back when they need help, support, or someone to listen.
Everyone has their own path. Not everyone in the world will sail through school with all A’s. Just because I love to read, does not require my children to also have that same love. Their experiences in school and life may be different than what the teacher is expecting from them and that’s ok. Our children are individuals and are meant to walk their own path in life, even if it looks much different than we think it should.
Have faith in what you have shown them. There comes a point where as parents we must step back and release our children and allow them to make decisions and explore where that takes them. Yes, even if we don’t agree with that choice. How will they ever know how to make it on their own if we never allow them to try while they still have a safety net?
It is not my child’s responsibility to validate me. Their successes and failures are just that, they belong to them. When my child succeeds at something that they worked so hard for, yes, I am so happy for them but I recognize that as their triumph. When they’re struggling and perhaps make a huge mistake that does not mean that I have failed as a parent, it just means that they are doing exactly what they came here to do — experience life!
I believe that the greatest gift that a parent can give their child is the knowledge that they are loved: The kind of love that cannot be undone. The kind of love that will carry them through all of the ups and downs of life. The kind of love that they can stand upon when reaching for their hearts desires. The kind of love that will catch them when they fall.
For more information on navigating life with your children and on the Empower Thyself class and how it can support you to be an empowered parent, please contact me.