Moms and Dads and Other Forces of Nature

Edutopia is re-running an article this month that I find provocative as both an educator and as a Mama. A Teacher’s Guide to Generation X Parents certainly rings true for me on about a thousand different levels, with its reference to the experience of growing up “as one of the least parented, least nurtured generations in U.S. history.” Our parents were busy changing the world and they believed, for better or worse, that we’d turn out fine if left to our own devices. For the most part, I think we did. Generation X is largely productive, no matter what your definition of that term might be and we seem to be doing our part in this great social experiment that is the USA. That being said, though, are we really what the author claims? Are we really “a demographic that has been making teachers’ and school administrators’ jobs a pain in the butt for more than a decade?” And if we are, then what does that say about the other “we” to whom I claim membership: educators?

From the educator perspective, I see a group of parents who are, for better or worse, more invested in their children than ever. I see a group of parents who want to do something to help, who want to play a real role in the classroom and who need help figuring out whether that how to help in way that’s actually…helpful. As opposed to heavy handed and intrusive. In this “do more with less and do it better” era, it would seem wasteful not to make use of those resources readily available to us, but how do we make use of parental support that feels less than supportive? The author shares an interesting list of suggestions that is worth a look. To her list, however, I’d add this one:

Clarify Expectations
Let us know where we can be helpful and where we can’t. Give us clear guides in terms of “things that I want your input on and things that I really have to decide on my own.” We want to please you, to help you and to support you but we can’t do effectively it if we don’t know what you need or want from us.

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