When John and I became host parents for Lukas, our exchange student from Switzerland, a few years ago, it was on a whim. During the application process, one of the questions asked of us was what were our rules. Honestly, it was the question that stumped us.
If you know us and know our kids, that may or may not surprise you. Our kids are pretty good. They aren’t exactly kids now at nearly 21 and 18, but they have always been generally well mannered and well behaved, and well, we haven’t exactly had rules with them. It wasn’t that we lived in a home absent of rules, we just had rules as they were necessary. For example, when Will was a toddler, we made a rule that he couldn’t watch the Rugrats on television because I didn’t want him imitating the behavior on one of the characters who was bratty.
That was our general approach to parenting, and well, I think we did ok. I mean, Will is now an adult and he is in college on track to graduate on time and Claire is a senior in high school. Both are doing really.
I tend to deal with my classroom in the same way. I don’t have a laundry list of rules for the students on the first day we just have an understanding that we will all treat each other with respect and if that isn’t working, I will step in and deal with situations as necessary. It works for me. It works for my students too. I can only think of a couple of students over the past 25 years who have thought I was unfair, but even with those students and parents I have maintained a positive working relationship.
I think that is my problem when we tackle problems with steadfast, set in stone, black and white solutions. What works in one instance doesn’t always work in another.
I know that when we are talking about problems that our government deals with, it is bigger than problems a parent faces or a teacher, but I do think we have to be reasonable. I understand the fear that some have about terrorism. It is real. However, the ban from the executive order, no matter what the intention, is not going to be effective. It has, I believe impacted the wrong people the most. It’s because when making the rule, when just looking at the black and white, the shades of grey weren’t considered at all, which is why we see the backlash, and why we will keep seeing the backlash. Our leaders need to start thinking before acting, which brings me back to the best parenting lesson I ever had.
When Will was just three, I grounded him from the television for a week. This, by the way, was always the best consequence for him. However, I did not consult John, who used the tv as a babysitter while he got dressed in the mornings [I was already at work], nor did I think about how awful it would be to have to entertain him without the television for a week. Still, as parents, we followed through. We made a 7 day chart and we stuck to our guns, BUT, I never again gave a quick consequence without considering how the consequence would impact the rest of us. I’m hoping that if nothing else the backlash from protests, judges, and angry Congressional members will convince our leader to think twice before acting rashly again. I know the job is hard, but it is too important for him to fail.