We get it!
No parent wishes to hear any bad news about their child in any form or fashion.
Good news is always welcomed, but bad news is interpreted as a reflection of their parenting skills. This is false. Depending upon the age of that child, crossing lines and defying authority is always just a decision away.
Receiving less than glowing remarks from other parents, is sometimes met with defensive responses like,” Mind your business.” or “Don’t worry about my child, look at yours.”
A ‘bad news’ report informs the parent that their child, whom they’ve reared to the best of their ability, has been making ill-advised choices.
The reply to less than positive news should be received with gratitude and should include follow-up questions. “Where, when, with whom…?” A parent should want to know as much as possible about their child’s activities. It may be possible that what would ordinarily be seen as inappropriate to one parent is, in fact, appropriate. Your child may be acting under your authority. In either case, appreciate the ‘heads up’. It demonstrates concern.
When behaviors or whereabouts are perceived as questionable, it behooves parents/adults to inform one another. This is how we live in a community- a/the village.
When adults respond negatively to other well-meaning adults, there is cause for concern. Strong communities, just as cohesive families, feel almost duty-bound to ensure the safety, survival and strength of youth, and one another. Therein lies your strength. It can help determine whether a child succeeds or fails in school or in life.
Parents must presume good intentions and receive all messages as informative and protective. With their authority, power and influence, parents are better poised to intervene and prevent negative outcomes for their child. Developmentally, teens and adolescents are more peer-oriented and impulsive.
When every adult feels that sense of responsibility and loyalty to one another, children tend to make more well-thought out choices. Respect for ALL adults will return.
Parents will begin to trust one another, trust their judgment and take heed to their messages. Trust is important here. Gang affiliation and violence, skipping school, bullying and other such choices will decrease.
Therefore, it reflects poorly on a parent who rejects both the message and the messenger. You can better maintain parental authority when you consider the messages as voices of concern, not intrusive. Don’t think of this as others watching you, but rather others are watching out for you. That’s refreshing and comforting, especially when parents can’t be in all places at all times. This is true for stay at home and working parents alike.
In a poorly resourced community, this ‘village’ mindset is critical. Children come first. When positively structured youth and family-oriented activities are scarce, you can collectively design and offer fun games and recreation, tutoring, babysitting services and the like depending on your needs and unique skills among you. If safety and security are concerns, neighborhood watches can be established when you come together. Minimal money is needed; only cooperation and commitment to the ‘ownership’ of your environment and desire to optimize life quality.
To some, if it seem that the ‘system’ is working against your family’s success and survival, certainly you have the same perception relative to your child. Therefore, it is vital that parents rely upon one another as a supportive network.
So you’ve given up on your own upward mobility, have met with discouragement one too many times, because of your lived experiences, communicate to your child in light of your insights. Do not discourage your child’s dreams, but encourage excellence and promote their resilience.
Use your knowledge about the world, and help your child cultivate a positive sense of self. Tell them what the world respects, irrespective of race. Keep them in school during school hours. After school, insist they study and do homework before going outside, online for entertainment, hosting friends, etc…
Last, if any parent dares to approach you with news, positive or less than positive, accept the messages as helpful. As children, we all have made some poor choices.
Consider your circumstances, challenges and surroundings. Where you see ‘lemons’, determine to make ‘lemonade’. Your parental duty is to equip your child with tools and skills to triumph over life’s challenges. We can’t avoid all mistakes and poor choices children make but we can help them learn from them. Help them redirect and move forward–stronger and wiser. Do it for love-the love you have for yourself, your children and your village. Once again, it DOES take a village!