This one is for the parents
i am not a parent. Well, not biologically. Or even adoptionally.
But i have been a child. And a teenager. i had friends who were children and teenagers. i have been a leader on and directed a very large number of holiday clubs and camps where children and teenagers were the main participants. i studied as a primary school teacher and did about a year’s worth of practical work in schools. i was a youth leader for twenty plus years. i have friends who have children and i have family who have children and i even now [at 45] am friends with a fairly decent number of children [who think i am pretty cool!]. And i volunteer with two organisations that work in schools.
So i do have some thoughts and ideas and observations and even, dare i say it, wisdom to share on this topic.
Show me your parents licence
Some people tend to disqualify those without their own children from having significantly relevant thoughts on what it means to be a parent. Do we know what it’s like to be a parent? Not from experience, no. But have we observed some things which work really well and some things which turn out really badly? Oh yes, a thousand times yes.
It seems crazy to me sometimes that you need a licence to drive a car [which involves a written test and a practical] and a licence to own a gun and you have to be a certain age to drink and you have to meet certain qualifications to get a job. But to become a parent? Well technically, you just have to stick a thing into another thing [i know, sorry!] and almost anyone can do it [much of the time without even choosing or wanting to].
So, in the same way as having a child doesn’t immediately qualify you to become a good parent, so not having a child does not disqualify you from seeing and knowing some things. Teachers, babysitters, youth leaders, sport coaches… none of us will claim to be the experts, but all of us will likely have some thoughts that at the very least are worth listening to, and considering, and then choosing to agree or disagree with, to take on board or to ignore.
For this particular series, i am inviting parents to jump in and have their say. So i am hoping that the 40 tips we end up with will be formed by the community that involved those who are parents and those who are not. This will be a collaborative journey and i will also be asking some parents afterwards to specifically add their own thoughts and stories in some additional posts.
So here is hoping that there are some new things to help the parents out there, because one thing i know for absolute sure as a person who is not a parent, being a parent looks like one of the hardest things in the world to do well. Any support and cheering on we can give you from the outside hopefully feels like a gift.
Keep on! You got this!
[For the first 5 Tips in this series, click here]
Other 40 Tips Series:
40 Tips for White people who are asking the question: But what can I do?