All posts tagged kids

Dear Mr. Clark,

Thanks for addressing this issue.  Your letter is an example of the kind of straightforward, honest dialog parents need to be having with their children’s educators.

I found a lot to agree with in your article.  “Helicopter parenting”, making excuses for our children, attorneys at parent-teacher meetings (really?!) all need to go.

And I loved this sentence:

“This one may be hard to accept, but you shouldn’t assume that because your child makes straight A’s that he/she is getting a good education.”

Totally agree.  Parents need to evaluate their child’s progress independent of grades, as much as possible.

But you said a few things that sound less like partnership and more like continued schism between parent and teacher.  For example, this statement:

“If we give you advice, don’t fight it. Take it, and digest it in the same way you would consider advice from a doctor or lawyer.”

Not going to happen.  I expect my doctor or lawyer to tell me what’s causing my problem and how to fix it.  Plus, they’ve studied/practiced medicine or law for many more years than I have.

And I know teachers have studied/practiced education for many years.  Here’s the difference:  I’ve known my own kid for many years.  To your point, I don’t know them in the context of a classroom with other kids but to say I should take your advice like I would advice from a doctor or lawyer is going too far.

Plus, it contradicts your idea of partnering.  I don’t bring much to my doctor or lawyer except complaints.  With my child’s educator, however, we both bring something to the table and that is knowledge about my child in different contexts.  By coming together, we can paint a more complete picture of him and come to a better understanding of his behavior and needs.

Next, this part:

“At times when I tell parents that their child has been a behavior problem, I can almost see the hairs rise on their backs.”

I  agree it would be best if, instead of being defensive, we just listened to your perspective, sincerely considered it and made adjustments where we see fit.

But come on.  These are our children.  At home, they make us laugh and chase us with train tracks for swords and let us tickle them and, sometimes, when we’re very lucky, they whisper, “I love you, Daddy.”  Can’t you at least understand that when you tell us our son is under-performing or talking too much or, heaven forbid, cheating, our first reaction isn’t one of passive acceptance?

We’re not reacting to you but to the message.  You can help us by being understanding and patient with us.  That way, we know we can trust you when the emotions have dissipated.  Then, with your support in the classroom, we’ll provide the necessary structure and discipline to make positive changes in his understanding and behavior.

Oh, and about your pet peeve (“Is that true?”)  We’re not asking him to confirm the verity of your statement.  We’re asking him so we can hear him admit his mistake in front of you.  It makes it easier for us to discipline him later on.

Mr. Clark, there are good parents out there who want to partner with their child’s educator to maximize the educational opportunity of their children.  I hope when you meet new parents, you give them the benefit of the doubt and treat them like good, effective partners.  Not like misbehaving children…

I recently took down a blog post for the first time ever. If I thought the post were merely poorly-written or I was wrong about my position, I wouldn’t have taken it down.

But I draw the line at hurting people who are genuinely doing their best.

The post tackled the very sensitive subject of mothers working while raising children. I don’t feel I gave the proper context around my opinions and beliefs and a close friend told me the post hurt her feelings. I spent a good deal of time thinking about it and talking it over with Heidi. In the end, I decided to take it down and give myself some time to think about how I wanted to approach this subject that I feel very strongly about.

Instead of tackling just the subject of working mothers, I’ll step back a little and start with a broader context: families. Because my opinion on mothers working stems from my feelings about the family.

Okay, down to brass tacks. Why do I think families are so important?

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“You want to have how many kids?”

That’s the typical (and understandable) reaction I get from people when I tell them my wife and I would like to have 7 kids (or more, if we can). I admit, it is a lot of kids. And, with two kids now, I can’t fathom handling five more. Not to mention how expensive it is to raise kids.

Additionally, some people think the world is overcrowded and that bringing lots of kids into it is irresponsible. There are two problems with that:

  1. The purpose of the Earth is to give God’s children a place to go through the mortal experience. The statement above counteracts that purpose.
  2. The fact is, the Earth is not overcrowded. There are more than enough resources to go around, if they’re used and distributed efficiently. Did you know only 7% of the land in the US is developed?

And there are a number of reasons why we feel comfortable with having a big family.

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Being a dad is tougher than I thought.  But not in the ways I thought it would be tough.  Don’t get me wrong, all the things I thought would be tough, are tough, including the early morning diaper changes, the spitting up and the horrible newborn poop that requires a pressure washer to clean.My family!

For me, though, there are harder things than sleep deprivation and “the icky stuff”.  It’s hard for me to know if I’m spending enough time with my family.  Heidi and I joke about boy #1 never letting me sleep in past 6:00am  with the phrase, “play with me, Daddy”.  It’s so cute, it’s nearly impossible to turn down (unless I’m actually sick).

He’s also fond of asking me, almost first thing in the morning after he wakes up, “Are you going to stay home?”  I can’t express how hard it is to hear that, right before I got to work or school or church.  I know I’m doing everything I can to spend time with him but I never know when it’s enough.

Then there’s the balancing act of trying to spend enough time with #2, who’s still 7 months and can’t tell me when he wants me to play with him while spending time with #1, who can tell me.  I already feel like I’m not able to focus as much on #2 as I was on #1 and I worry that I won’t be as close to #2, who I love every bit as much as #1.

My hope is these things balance out in the end.  School ends in June, so that’ll free up some time.  Plus, I’m going to make sure to spend one-on-one time with each kid, every month or so.  Throw in working together in the yard and the garden and making home improvements, as they grow up, and we’ll probably do okay.  I figure as long as I really do my best to spend as much time truly focused on my family, as possible, they’ll recognize that.

So far, this perpetual ambiguity around whether I’m meeting my family’s needs has been the hardest part of the job.  And I figure that fact alone means I’m very blessed.

Being a dad is tougher than I thought.

And I love every second.