I have been spending some quality time in preparation for the upcoming debut of Parent University. It's been a privilege to re-read research studies and text books from graduate school and to reflect on what's most important for parents to know (especially when they are in the throws of the early years with kids). I'm excited to share my research, stories, and realizations during Parent U, but I thought I would lay this realization out on the blog as well: Parents are not solely responsible for the healthy development of their child(ren).
Let that sink in a minute.
In my experience as a teacher and as a parent, I see and feel the pressure that parents put on themselves-- the guilt over not "getting it right", the wondering how others seem to "have it all together". The truth is, our children develop in a social system with many contributing factors: people, places, politics, and many social/cultural factors. And those things work together with, or sometimes in opposition to, the primary caregivers. We have a mutual responsibility to support one another as parents and also to advocate for systems that support families and children. Because, let's face it, parenting can be a lonely and isolating business if we keep our eyes down on the path of child-rearing alone. If we adjust our view up to the horizon, broaden our perspective and seek out resources, we see that there are networks of support all around us.
Remembering this makes me feel grateful for this school community, for the ways in which you support one another and find connection through the shared experience of raising young children. I'm including a video here from the Harvard Center on the Developing Child that succinctly describes this theory of change. Are you actively building your village, your network of support?