Reflective Parenting

Respond rather than react to your children

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New Beginnings!

Hello All!

New beginnings!  School!  And with every new beginning come expectations.  Expectations of ourselves and others.  It seems like expectations “should” be clear.  But many times they are not, and that’s where difficulties begin and drag on…  Let’s hope this post will help parents, educators and children be on the same page…

Expectations need to be explicit rather than implicit.  So many times, all of us just “expect” people to know each other’s expectations.  In my experience, that doesn’t happen often.  Very few of us are good mind readers.  School is a vitally important part of a child’s academic and social world, and the impact, positive or negative, can be long-lasting.


Here are some questions for you, as parents, that help clarify expectations…

1.  What are your expectations for your child, academically, socially?
2.  Are your expectations reasonable, attainable and realistic?
3.  What does your child think of your expectations?
4.  What expectations does your child have of school?
5.  Have you discussed your expectations with each other?
6.  Have you written your expectations down?

Children do better at school when they know what you, as parents, expect AND that those expectations are reasonable.


1.  Make sure you know what the school expects of your child.
2.  Make sure you know what the school expects of you, the parent.
3.  Schools usually have written protocols around safety, communication with the teacher/principal/counselor, et al.  If you don’t receive written protocols, ASK for them.
4.  Read the protocols carefully and keep them in a safe place so you can refer to them as needed.
5.  Go over school protocols with your children.  Ask them to explain their understanding of the protocols.  Don’t assume they know.
6.  Note any ambiguities or any protocols that you want clarified.
7.  When you seek to clarify expectations from the school, use examples.  Using examples is a concrete way of making sense of protocols that  seem abstract to you.  Consider this kind of dialogue:  “I’m not sure what x means.  My meaning is:…….  Is that your meaning as well?  For example, if x happened, what would the protocol be?
8.  Assume the best of the school personnel.  As a former teacher and the daughter of an educator, the great majority of educators CARE about your child and you.  They want to help.
9.  Protocols can’t cover every situation.  If you need special accommodations for your child, please let the school know IN WRITING.  Copy your e-mail/letter to all concerned parties.  Request a response and a meeting, if necessary.
10. Familiarize yourself with the school AND school district web-site.  Expectations for educational personnel, parents and students are often posted there.


1.  There are certain things schools can’t do.  Accept their limitations.
2.  Be pleasant and positive.
3.  Share pertinent information.
4.  Get to know the classroom teacher.  If you can, volunteer.
5.  If you have a meeting with a teacher/principal, consider taking a friend along for support.
6.  When corresponding with the school, write or phone when you are calm and collected.
7.  Most difficulties are the result of misinterpretations.  Words mean different things to different people.  Keep talking things out.

A final reminder: if you are positive about school, your children will pick up those vibes.  The opposite is true, too.

All the best for a great school year!

Until next time,



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Are Parents Teaching Their Children Independence or Dependence?

Hello All,

Today while I was driving, I was listening to a fascinating commentary on what university students today can do versus the university students of the 70’s.  Revealing information!  Coupled with that interview, I read a short article in this month’s “Readers Digest” on adult children returning home after receiving their degrees. Students today are very informed when it comes to technology.  No surprise there.  The report indicated that students today are far more knowledgeable about financial matters than those of us who graduated in the 70’s and 80’s.  I wish I had known more in my teens, my early twenties and thirties about financial matters such as investments and saving for retirement.  There seems to be a down-side, though, and that is that students have difficulty applying their knowledge of finances practically.

There is an increasing tendency for students to rely more and actually depend on their parents to help them further financially support their education as well as contributing substantially to help them buy cars and homes.  Home is becoming a place where adult children return home, expect all the privileges without taking on any or many of the responsibilities needed to keep a home running smoothly.  A surprising number of adult children don’t feel they need to pay their parents rent because they are saving to buy a house, etc.  The home they want to buy usually has to be “new” with all the accompanying pluses such as granite counter-tops, hardwood floors and up-t0-date appliances even though most admit they plan to eat out rather than cook,   In essence, they want the newest and the best.

And here’s another angle.  The radio commentary revealed that university students, unlike their counterparts in the 70’s and 80’s, flounder when they live in a university setting away from home.  Doing laundry, organizing their time, cooking, even boiling a egg are completely foreign and overwhelming tasks!

On a fairly regular basis I watch Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s show, Princess.  Gail is a well-recognized Canadian financial advisor and writer, known for her down-to-earth, blunt assessments and acerbic manner.  Most of the “princesses” are young 20 and 30 somethings who feel that their parents and others, usually friends, roomies and their significant others, “owe” them the life-style their parents have taken years to attain.  They pay for cell phones, cars (new ones!), condos (the best!), car insurance, etc.  Their children, often in entry-level jobs, are borrowing money from their parents or using their limited salaries to buy designer clothes, eat out, party hard and expensively and beauty (I never knew one could spend that much on manicures, tanning, pedicures, make-up and hair!) What’s happened here?  It’s fascinating to see how the parents of the “princesses” react.  The great majority of them realize that they had a significant part to play in how their adult behavior children are now coping or, well, not coping.  They have encouraged, with every good intention, their children’s sense of entitlement.  Many of them state that they wanted an easier life for their children than they had.  They soon realize they need to step back and watch their children struggle to develop life-skills that they needed to be encouraging all along.  Some of the characteristics the “princesses” and, I’m sure that includes “princes” as well include:

  • an absorption of self
  • a lack of empathy
  • a lack of gratitude
  • a sense of “I want it, and I’ll do what I have to get it (including “stealing” Mom’s credit card)”
  • an unrealistic view that, even with a degree, you don’t need to pay your “dues” when starting a job
  • a sense of entitlement
  • an unreliable work ethic and
  • little, if any, sense of the impact of their actions.

And, now the final question?  If the parents of the “princesses” had it to do over again, what would they do differently?  Would they prepare their children any differently?

I am interested in receiving responses to this post.  What are your experiences as parents?  Looking forward to your responses.