ATSP Executive Director’s Newsletter January 2016

RE. EXCELLENT PARENTING

Can you think of a job where no training is required, no interviews are conducted, no contract is signed, no boss is in position, no experience is necessary, no appraisal is undertaken? Oh, and where no pay is given (in fact, you would be required to pay)? I can. Strangely enough, too, it is the hardest job in the world (maybe because of the absence of all these requirements). It is a strange fact that to become a parent one does not need any training (have you come across a Bachelor of Parenting degree…? The word ‘Bachelor’ may be a clue!); one is not interviewed with regard to one’s suitability for the position (would we have been offered the ‘job’ if we had…?); one does not sign any contract in terms of conditions; one answers to no-one else; one does it without any prior practice (unless you are a teacher or social worker or had to look after siblings when younger); no-one sits down and reviews how one is doing as a parent.

Perhaps it was such a thought that prompted Samuel Butler, a celebrated writer, to state that “Parents are the last people on earth who should have children”. Whatever we may feel, we cannot get away from the reality that as parents we have children and therefore must accept the responsibilities. What is more, we are required to do an excellent job with little help, training or experience (just when you think you have understood your youngster they turn into a teenager and you have to try to understand that totally different creature!)

As you will see on the website and on our letterhead above, the ATS Vision is “Promoting Educational Excellence in Independent Schools” – it is about excellence and independence. That means that parents also must display excellence, as parents are involved in their child’s education. What does that mean?

First and foremost, parents must be excellent in the example we give to our children and to our children’s friends. Furthermore, our example must fit in with the ethos of the school that we have chosen. How can we expect our children not to drink and drive, or not to drink and get drunk, if we do so? How can we expect our children to respect their teachers and those in authority if we do not show respect to security guards, receptionists or teachers? How can we expect our children to have a positive view of their school if we criticise the school in front of them?

In short therefore, I urge all of us to strive to be better parents, to be excellent parents. To that end, I point you towards a series of articles on our website (under the ‘Parent’ tag), with a new one being added each term, on aspects of education (especially the latest one on ‘critical thinking’). I also encourage you to attend any parenting seminars that your school might hold or that outside organisations may arrange (for example, some churches offer these while the Harare Christian Counselling Centre also run extremely helpful seminars). Contact this office if you would like any information.

You have the job of being a full-time parent. Gain a Masters in Parenting! Do it excellently!