The Enlightened Parent
In the evening, I enjoy my daily skim through a number of newspapers (on-line of course). My iPad is filled with stories from the BBC, Vancouver Sun, Globe and Mail, CBC and the New York Times. My routine continued through the holidays and on December 25th, while visiting my parents in India, an interesting article piqued my interest – The Relentlessness of Modern Parenting.
NY Times reporter Claire Cain Miller shares a startling statistic that mothers in the 1970s spent 1.75 hours a week on doing, what she calls, “hands-on parenting” - driving, taking children to lessons, helping with homework, and ‘negotiating’ on their behalf. Today, that number is over 5 hours! The time pressure for parents, especially working mothers, is prohibitive. The phenomena is termed “intensive parenting” – constantly teaching and monitoring one’s children. The root cause of this new style comes in part from economic anxiety. Will my child find their passion, job, and wonderful life AND I am responsible for their happiness. At the other end of the spectrum is another new phrase – “free range parenting” – where parents allow their children to take risks, experiment, and skin their proverbial knees. This is what our parents called parenting.
Another real concern eating away at today’s parents is safety and security. Despite clear stats indicating a reduction of child abductions and abuse, our protective gene is difficult to tame and, today, we apply texting expectations and GPS tracking technology to ensure our precious ones are safe and sound.
Boarding school parents, I believe, are the enlightened ones. They know that while they desperately miss their child(ren), they understand that the development of independence, resilience, social skills and leadership competencies are more important than their own feelings. They also recognize that quality will always trump quantity. Brentwood parents often speak of the quality time they enjoy with their child(ren) during our frequent breaks that are strategically timed to arrive every 5 or 6 weeks. This quality time replaces the endless driving to rehearsals and practices, lunch-making and laundry, and sleep-ins and Fortnite. Brentwood provides an environment where students can enjoy chemistry class, music rehearsals and cardio training. Where they can enjoy a Nigerian meal, big bro/sis evening, and TEDx. Where they can lean on a committed team of trusted adults. All of this, of course, on one community-oriented campus.
It is not just about time but quality time.
The culture of worry, the culture of protection, and the culture of guilt must give way to the culture of opportunity, the culture of empowerment, and the culture of gift-giving. Brentwood parents are giving the ultimate gift to their children - a learning environment that children can both be themselves and find themselves.
Bud Patel, Head of School