by Head of School Muddy Waters
How ironic that the most important job of my life is the one for which I have no formal training! What job is that you may wonder? No, it is not my job as Head of School. It is my job as a parent of three children. As I imagine may be the case for many of us, the most logical model to use for parenting is the one established by our own parents. Some of us may choose to follow that model, while others may decide to follow a very different path.
Making sweeping statements can be dangerous, but here I go… My parents’ generation certainly loved their children but made it clear there was a divide between the world of adults and the world of children. The media, which mainly was television and radio, portrayed the same distinction between those two worlds, and the adults seemed to be confident and wise. Many parents today seem to have made the decision to be much more involved in their children’s lives than their parents were. Also, the media portrays the relationships much differently, with the parents often the clueless ones and the children wise and savvy.
No one generation has it all right and I would argue the truth may lay somewhere in between. At Pike, we are blessed to have such involved parents and caregivers who work with us in service of the best interests of our children. By sharing our thoughts and impressions of our students, we increase our ability to open many doors for them. However, because we love our children so much and want them to be happy, at times, we want to jump into the fray.
As a result, we have noticed a new phenomenon. Conflicts between children at school have always existed. In fact, we would argue that it is a major function of our job to help them learn how to navigate those complicated waters, as just like the three Rs, it is a critical skill. If I came home to report to my parents that someone had been mean to me at school, the usual response was that I needed to find a way to work it out, and typically I was able to do just that. It was actually quite liberating to know my parents had faith in me to handle it. Today, we have seen more parents get involved either by calling the school or contacting a caregiver of the other child. We have even seen times when the children had worked out the situation, but it flared up again after the adults got involved. Let me be clear here that there are definitely times when the adults need to get involved, and these times would include extreme incidents or repeated problems that would trigger our procedures for bullying. The good news is that these incidents are very rare at Pike.
Let me close by encouraging the adults to give our children the chance to work out these matters. Our social/emotional programs are designed to help them grow in their skill at dealing with conflict, and we often use incidents that have arisen as teachable moments. If in doubt, instead of getting more deeply involved, consider letting some time pass and if you continue to be concerned, give us a call so we can decide together what course to take. My experience tells me that the children often do work it out and are the better for it.
The Pike School is an independent, coed, day school for Pre-K through ninth grade in Andover, Massachusetts. Visit pikeschool.org to learn more about Pike – and visit our blog for more thought leadership. To learn more about admission to The Pike School, visit our Admission page.