I am concerned at what seems to be an increased level of parental anxiety being evident in our College. Further, this anxiety is on occasion manifesting itself in levels of hostility that are interfering with the quality of some conversations and this, in turn, is affecting the ability of all parties to focus calmly on the well being of the children in our care.
As a parent, I have had many occasions when I have wanted to protect and defend my children from the consequences of their actions. When I have felt this, I have
paused to reflect carefully and take time to calm my feelings so that I could manage the problem and respond appropriately. While we are always eager for our child to enjoy the consequences of positive behaviours, we are all too often tempted to protect them from the consequences of poor decisions and behaviours. They are going to make mistakes as well as do wonderful things and understanding and accepting that all actions have consequences is an important part of growing up and reaching maturity.
The culture at SCC has always been one of gracious engagement. For a minority of parents, this tone seems to be in decline.
Parents need to ask questions such as:
- Is my child’s view of the universe entirely correct, or is it partial or jaundiced in some way?
- Are my expectations reasonable in a school?
- Does my child have the maturity to be able to appraise this situation in all its dimensions?
- Is the issue worthy of this level of hostility?
- Should my child be able to manage this himself or herself as a learning experience?
I commend the advice of the Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, to parents and staff:
"Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person" – Colossians 4:6.
Mutual respect and calm interchange are always best. When responding to issues, a good opening could be “my child says ... do you think that is accurate?” or “I think we may have a problem here, can you please assist in resolving it,” rather than a fiery contact.
I have always respected the right for a parent to be an advocate for their child and I am not seeking to change that here. It is the manner in which the advocacy is conducted that is important and it is what I am asking parents to consider. The vast majority of our parents are delightful in their interactions and very appreciative of staff. Where substantial issues exist, they can normally be resolved by a courteous, calm interchange. If necessary, the situation can be formalised through the school’s Grievance Policy.
I have chosen to make all parents aware of this concern because I am eager for Swan to be a community where respectful and civil conversation can take place. As a community, let us focus on what is best for the child; what allows the child to understand that there are consequences for all actions, to learn from these, and to grow as a resilient and productive member of society. We continue to seek to work with parents in a partnership where we work together for the good of the child.
I trust that this article will not offend members of our community but will be seen as me expressing a desire to address this matter in a positive way so that parents and staff can work together to ensure that each child has the best opportunity to grow and flourish in our College environment. If matters are resolved calmly, those involved enhance their relationship and ability to work together in a more positive and productive environment.
For more information on this topic, please refer to the following College policies: