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When To Step In and When To Step Back?

Over the last few months I've taken to Twitter as a resource when it comes to effective methods for teaching boys. Social media has exploded over the last ten years as a source of information about anything and everything related to schools and education. As a head of school, I have the benefit of conversing and collaborating with other heads of school through their Twitter accounts. They post or tweet a comment or an article related to teaching boys and they often mention an author, or suggest a book. In an instant I can have access to the latest research without ever leaving my desk.

Last week I discovered two articles that were posted on a colleague's Twitter account related to parenting that made me stop and think, the author hit the bullseye with their point. The first article was titled, "A Letter of Apology to a Son Graduating from College." The letter is heartfelt and reminded me choosing to take the long view as our sons' grow-up is critical to their development. If we get too much in the way of their emotional, spiritual, and academic growth, we can derail the natural challenges they face, as they make the normal mistakes on the way toward adulthood. The author is so right when she states, "The hardest part of parenting is knowing when to step in and when to step back." Later in the article she made this further helpful note, "Years ago I read a parenting book that included this advice: When your child does something amazing, do not say, "I am so proud of you." Instead say, "You should feel so proud of yourself." That is a hard habit to break, inserting the parental I and confusing your child's identity with your own. Forgetting that it's not about you. Stepping in when you should be stepping back."

The second article worth reading is titled, "Science Says Parents of Successful Kids have these 13 things in common." I realize success can be classified in multiple ways among parents but this list hits the bullseye again when I think about what we're trying to achieve at Regis. I've pulled a few quotes from the article that are my favorites, but I encourage you to read the article for your favorites:

"Kids raised on chores go on to become employees who collaborate well with their coworkers, are more empathic because they know firsthand what struggling looks like, and are able to take on tasks independently."

"socially competent children who could cooperate with their peers without prompting, be helpful to others, understand their feelings, and resolve problems on their own, were far more likely to earn college degrees and have a full-time job by age 25."

"developing math skills early can turn into a huge advantage....beginning school with a knowledge of numbers, number order, and other rudimentary math concepts....predicts future math and reading achievement."

"the number of hours that moms spend with kids between ages 3-11 does little to predict the child's behavior, well-being, or achievement. What's more "intensive mothering" or helicopter parenting" approaches can backfire."

"If kids are told that they aced a test because of their innate intelligence, that creates a "fixed" mindset. If they succeeded because of effort, that teaches a "growth" mindset."

"authoritative parenting is the ideal because the kid grows up with a respect for authority, but doesn't feel strangled by it."

"a powerful, success-driving personality trait called grit defined as a tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals...teaches kids to imagine-and commit-to a future they want to create."

Parenting is a difficult job and one that draws upon all of our previous experiences. There are plenty of parenting books but we often need to create our unique style of parenting on the fly. Parenting is a lot like on the job training because every new parent can truthfully say to others, "I've never done this before, or this is my first time doing this thing called parenting."

Our Regis boys have the benefits of being part of a loving and nurturing community. Our Regis mission has a recipe for success in the form of our 5 Goals of Sacred Heart education. A boy's developing spirituality combined with his intellect can inspire service to others as the key to maturity and being part of a supportive community. This is our mission and it is what we share in common as a school for scholars and gentleman in the making!