A Tool for Making Mother's Job Easier
The headline in the April 19, 2012 Tri-State Defender newspaper out of Memphis, Tennessee caught my eye. It said, "State To Parents: Get On Your Job!" The article is about a new law in the state of Tennessee that was designed to urge parents to "get involved and stay engaged in their children's school and education."
I don't know whether it is sad or creative that the state has to mandate by law that parents get involved in their child's education. But it doesn't really matter how it came to be as long as it works to improve a child's education prospects and keeps them out of the pipeline to a criminal track and to the State's prison system. The Law has two parts to it. Part one is the Parental Contract, and part two is a Parental Report Card.
The Parental Contract encourages parents to sign contracts that assure the school that, among other things: (1) they are committed to getting their child to school on time; (2) making sure that their homework is done; (3) attending parent-teacher conferences regularly; and, (4) generally, guiding their children in doing their primary job of getting an education as they prepare for the future. The School District will be responsible for giving the parents clear directions as to what their expectations are.
The Parental Report Card will measure the parents against the district's goals and allow them to grade themselves against the expectations of the School District. Each parent will receive a blank report card and grade themselves on how they are doing to help their kids and where they can improve.
If such a program is implemented and it leads to more children avoiding the penal system, it is a giant success. When you attend a school graduation, and you know that your child not only attended school, but was a learner because you helped him/her study, or you got help to keep them on track, it has to feel better than watching him/her marching into court with handcuff's on because he/she stole something, or worse, robbed or killed somebody. You can help the process by assuming the parental role even if it means playing the tough love game.
It strikes me that those old parenting ways that my parents used and that I and my wife followed was the proper recipe for training up your child. When we were children, we were forced to study our lessons and get our homework done. We were forced to go to church and Sunday School and to Young People Willing Worker class (YPWW) on Sunday evenings where we learned to read, recite, compete, debate, study and memorize the scriptures. We learned a moral code that included right from wrong, respect for elders, including how to address elders by Mr. and Mrs., and never by their first names.
Oh yes, there were a few kids, whose parents were not on their job, who teased me as being a square, but at the end of the day, the teasers got to go to jail and I got to go to college. I was teased because I didn't get to the girls as soon as the slicker boys, but today there is no baby mama drama in my life. The condom I acquired, assuming I got lucky, wore a hole in my wallet, but I was prepared. I remember the talk I gave my sons about doing the wrong thing. I included a sex education part where I talked to my boys about the unavailability of sex with females in jail and asked them if they think they would like the male to male option. That is the only option in prison. A sex education talk needs to be on a parent's agenda and on their report card, whether it is taught in school or not. Parents need to talk about it or prepare to add "grandma and grandpa", sooner than they had planned.
I think the Tennessee law sounds good on its face, but then I don't believe that children should have a lot of choices about education, friends, or some of the music they listen to. I think that parents need to be parents and teach their children lessons that the parents may have learned the hard way. I repeat the old Chinese proverb that says, "Old folks give good advice because they can no longer set bad examples." And put that with the Biblical rule, "Train up a child in the way [he/she] should go and when [he/she] is old [he/she] will not depart from it."
Parents, do you have a passing grade on your Report Card?
This is a great article for Mothers day as it adds a tool to help make life easier for the already over burdened job of being a mother.