• From the Principal's Desk

    From Principal Rundle

    A Regular Sharing of Ruminations

    November 3, 2017

     

    Dearest Cresthill Community,

     

    Greetings wonderful Cresthill Family! I am about to say something in this EBlast that should probably get me fired as a middle school
    principal. Like that's a big surprise to anybody... But here it goes
    anyways: I think parents should stop communicating so much with their adolescents. Now, hear me out and hopefully you'll understand where I'm coming from and what I'm actually saying. I'll start by reiterating my fundamental premise and belief about raising a teenager - that there is nothing more important in parenting than nurturing an authentic and robust
    relationship with your teen. So I'm definitely not suggesting all forms of communication should be limited: just the kind that is hindering some of the development and maturation of your child. And, frankly, the kind that is perhaps the most frequent.


    I'm talking about parent/student texting one another throughout the school day. I saw this trend starting to get out of hand about 4 years ago and have
    watched it escalate and ramp up ever since. I get it, it is convenient and, let's be honest comforting, to be able to maintain connection with our cherished offspring with our cherished devices. The day texting comes in all flavors: "I'm at the grocery store, what do you want for dinner tonight?" A very common text. "How did you do on your Spanish quiz today... was it what you studied for?" "Don't forget to ask your science teacher if he found your missing homework yet." "My friends are spreading mean rumors about me again today." I've even had kids text their parents after daily announcements to relay my lame joke of the morning! While I consider that a great compliment on the one hand!, on the other it worries me that there is this level of constant contact going on between some of our kids and parents.


    Remember, my goal is always to help the kids who come to Cresthill become more sturdy (mature, independent, resilient.) I believe in service to this goal
    kids need space - that is, a healthy separation - including a cyber separation - away from their parental units. Even toddlers drift away from the knees of a parent's lap at increasingly greater distances. There is something relatively simple that I believe we can do as parents to help our children become more sturdy and more emotionally healthy: give them space and silence.

     
    Unprecedented levels of anxiety in American youth is, as I'm sure you're aware, headline news as of late. Not a day goes by at school that my mental
    health team isn't dealing directly with what feels like an epidemic of anxious kids. I recently came across a helpful definition of anxiety from a child psychologist: much anxiety in children is a result of the overestimation of danger and the underestimation of the ability to cope.

     
    For 12-14 year-olds, I believe school can and should be a place and time for finding one's own legs; a seven and a half hour venturing away from the security of parent contact and reassurance, a time to learn how to make and stick with personally made decisions, to reassure oneself and resolve upsets, and to learn how to manage and overcome discomfort. The difficulty as I see it is we are in a time when our teens absolutely want parents to respond to their questions, complaints, frustrations, requests, and rants. Our natural
    inclination as loving parents is to be right there for them... immediately!


    My challenge is pretty straight forward: drastically limit or eliminate communication with your teen during school hours. They are coming back to you in a few short hours! "Let's talk about it tonight" is an ideal reply text... and then silence. I hope you can believe me, it isn't because it is a problem for us with interruptions or distractions in our environment. Frankly, it is not. Your kids are quite stealth and know how and when to text without getting in trouble with a teacher. My heart's desire to help build sturdier human beings.
    Starting at 7:30 AM trust your kid to navigate and negotiate through her or his day without your input, prompting, or inquiry. Those are all excellent things, but all things that can and should be done as a part of an evening routine
    and ritual. These are car conversations or conversations to have while
    making dinner together. Even then, resist the temptation to moralize,
    rescue, philosophize, or minimize. These responses are not generally
    helpful for building strength in your kid.


    Let your kiddo know that you are going to try an experiment and they should not be concerned if you do not respond to texts sent during the school day.
    Let them know you are giving them the Gift of Space through your silence; and that you will be very willing and eager to talk all about these things when you see them in the evening. That message alone is a powerful and profound communication to your teen saying: "I believe in you. I believe you have the strength, resiliency, and independence to make it through the day without me."
    Text less, communicate more.


    Best,
    Sid

    (read more here.)