Parents Connecting with Children

February 2020

We have been invited to give a talk to parents of one of the schools that we mentor. The school principal feels that there is a disconnect between the students and their parents. The parents are not playing their role and are letting their children down. Some of these parents drop their children off at school and do not see them again until the student finishes school, or, is in some sort of trouble and the parent is called in to help intervene. The children find their own way home when schools close and find their way back when schools reopen. The parents of these children have no clue how their children survive in school.

Our take is that parents with little empathy often neglect their children and don’t even realize it, while there are also parents who don’t care. Either way, the child grows up wondering about their own self-worth and value.

Family is the single most important influence in a child’s life. From their first moments of life, children depend on parents and family to protect them and provide for their needs. Parents and family form a child’s first relationships. They are a child’s first teachers and act as role models in how to act and how to experience the world around them. By nurturing and teaching children during their early years, families play an important role in making sure children are ready to learn when they enter school. Children thrive when parents actively promote their positive growth and development. Every parent knows it’s sometimes difficult to do this important work without help, support, and additional resources.  This is where teachers and mentors step in.

Students in the various schools where we offer the Choice Club mentorship program are always very eager to go home for the midterm breaks so that they can spend time with their parents and siblings. Being in a boarding school requires one to stay away from home for a period of up-to 2 months before one can go home. Having a home to go to and parents who are loving and concerned about a child’s welfare makes it all the more worthwhile. Maybe schools need to be more aggressive in communicating to parents the importance of parent engagement, including what the school expects of the parent. Parents who back their children make a difference in school success by helping develop an appropriate mindset, motivation, and self-discipline at school. Disengaged parents promote dysfunction and are helping create a generation of children who are less well educated and adjusted than they could otherwise be.

Many times, parents who are neglectful also use shame and humiliation when the child attempts to achieve their love and approval. The child may eventually stop trying, and the loneliness that follows may actually be easier to deal with than the shame, humiliation, or neglect.

As we plan to meet these parents, we hope to communicate to them that ignoring or neglecting a child’s needs can create many symptoms and ultimately mental health problems, which then can affect the rest of her life. How, for example, can a child grow up knowing how to provide empathy and nurturing if they were never taught? If children are loved and treated well, they don’t grow up wanting to hurt others, they grow up wanting to help and respect others with the ability to provide empathy.

Every child deserves to be loved, cared for and protected. Neglected children exhibit symptoms like poor appearance and hygiene, health and development problems, erratic change in behavior, they are timid and fearful, others will fight at the slightest provocation.

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