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Student Parent Relationships

Article Date: 
19 November, 2010 - 06:00

By Terry Allen, Assistant Principal, Morgan Middle School
You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around - and why his parents will always wave back.  ~William D. Tammeus
As an assistant principal I am often the one that gets the opportunity to call parent(s) about things that student(s) do at school, some good and some that are shall we say less than desirable. As I make these phone calls I find myself wondering how the person on the other end of the conversation is going to respond to what I have to tell them. Fortunately for me the vast majority of the parents that I have spoken with have been pleasant to work with and supportive of their student in the situation.
Recently, I made a phone call to the parents of a student who had made a mistake and when I identified who I was and where I was calling from they said they were expecting my call. To be honest I was a little surprised by this response. As we discussed the situation I discovered that their student had already talked to them about what had happened and that they were supportive of the things we needed to do as a school to make things right.  It was then that I realized the relationship between this student and his parents was an example of what Tammeus was talking about in his quote from above.
This family had an unconditional love for each other and knew that no matter what things happened they could work it out as a family. The student felt safe letting his parents know what had happened not because he would not be held accountable, rather he knew he would be held accountable and supported as they made things right.  As a parent I can only hope that my children feel comfortable enough to come to me when they make a mistake. The question is what can I do to show them that they can do this and that I will love them no matter what?
A quick Google search on “how to talk to my kids” came up with 126 million hits that I could choose from to get ideas on how to build a relationship with my children. Talk about brain overload, I quickly knew this was not the way for me to develop a plan. I took a minute to think about what I needed to know as a child that my parents were always there for me, even if I had done something wrong. As I thought about it, I went back to the times I had not been stellar in my behavior. My parents had held me accountable for things dependent on the situation and took the appropriate intervention based on my behavior. The reason I knew that I could talk to my parents was because we talked all the time. Sometimes it was more that they let me talk and they listened to what I had to say. When I talked to them about problems ,they asked me how I thought amends could be made. They helped me take accountability for my behavior and to develop a plan to make right what I had made wrong.
I would like to encourage all of us to take the time to listen and talk with our children about everyday things so that when mistakes happen, and we all make mistakes, they will talk to us about them as well. I would like to thank all of you for the opportunity I have to work with your children in the Morgan School District and wish all of you a happy holiday season.