Right in between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day as we are, let’s celebrate being parents! In fact, The New Century School’s word of the week this week is celebrate, and students learned to say it in Spanish—celebrar—and in Mandarin—qìng zhù (庆祝). This week TNCS also hosted lovely Mother’s Day breakfasts for each class to give Moms (or another special person who was able to attend) a chance to spend some time with their little ones in their school environment, eat a healthy breakfast, and socialize with the other Moms and kids.
Some classes even performed songs or handed out flowers to each Mom. This annual TNCS tradition is just about as nice a celebration as you could want. And the kids . . . they were beaming from ear to ear, proudly introducing their moms to special friends (and handling the delay in getting outside to the playground with admirable restraint). Sundai Valcich, mother of two children in the primary program at TNCS says, “The Mother’s Day breakfast is one of my favorite events of the year. I love the excitement my children have leading up to the day, and the pride they have those mornings bringing me into their school. It’s so nice to share a meal with them there and is a wonderful way to celebrate being their Mom.”
Even though school will already be out for the semester by the time Father’s Day comes around, TNCS is making sure Dads get their turn, too. TNCS Services Manager Lindsay Duprey says, “the primary classes invite fathers (or significant other male figures or mothers) to join their child for breakfast at Thames Street Park.” Bulletins from class teachers will provide dates and times.
So to help keep the celebratory spirit going, let’s indulge in some more exploration of what it means to have children and to care for them. After all, parenting is at the heart of this blog as well as at the heart of why we care about the quality of our kids’ educations. Here is some empirical evidence with which to reassure ourselves that we’re raising happy, well-adjusted kids. Of course, none of us manages to do all of it right all of the time, but all of us get it right some of the time—cause enough to celebrate!
A Top 10 Evidence-Based Parenting Checklist
1. Joke with your kids: Researcher Elena Hoicka at the Economic and Social Research Council believes parents who joke with their children are helping them develop social aplomb—no kidding! Though “joking around” certainly counts, click here for some kid-friendly quips to add to your personal stand-up routine.
2. Stay positive: Researcher Michael Lorber from the University of Minnesota originally reported in Child Development that negative parenting can result in aggressive kids. Even when it’s the last thing we feel like doing when confronted with bad behavior, correct with a smile and gentleness.
3. Foster self-compassion: Pioneering self-compassion researcher Kristin Neff suggests that accepting our imperfections is a very important life skill, helping people stay resilient in the face of challenges. Parents can use self-compassion when coping with difficult times with their kids, but even better, as we show ourselves compassion, we set a great example for our kids.
4. Let go: This is the hard one for many, but researcher Neil Montgomery found that so-called “helicopter” parents have neurotic kids who are more dependent on Mom and Dad throughout life.
5. Nurture your marriage (or partnership): Surprisingly, researcher Anne Mannering at Oregon State University discovered that marital instability caused sleep difficulties in young children—at ages when sleep is most critical for healthy development. The implied converse is that stability allows for healthy sleep with all of its concomitant developmental benefits.
6. Tend your mental health: Researcher Heidemarie Laurent showed that depressed parents display muted responses to their childrens’ distress and could also contribute to depression, stress, and other problems in their kids down the road. Getting help when you need it will help your child also make necessary adjustments for health.
7. Develop secure attachments: Researchers from the University of Maryland believe this is especially important between mothers and sons and leads to better interpersonal (including romantic) relationships in their adulthood.
8. A little sassing is okay: Kids are learning to stand up for themselves, say researchers, and this is especially important for withstanding peer pressure. Again, smile, smile, smile . . .
9. Abolish perfectionism: Researchers found that parents who believe society expects perfect parenting from them ironically become worse parents and could transfer that stress and self-doubt to their kids. Good enough is good enough!
10. Tailor your parenting to your kids. We know this on a really deep level, but somehow the other voices manage to creep in. No matter what other parents think and advise, we know our own kids’ personalities best. Researchers say to be flexible and adapt your parenting style to your particular kids for their lifelong emotional health.
So parents, pat yourselves on the back and celebrate the great work you’ve done!