My Responsibility

As an educator, I have an opportunity to keep a pulse on the world of kids and sometimes see the world through their lenses. School was rough two weeks ago. The things that happened, the chain of events, the poor decisions made by some of our students caused me to stop and think for a minute. Did they willing choose to make bad decisions? Did they know the consequences and repercussions that would follow? Why did they think they would get away with it? Did they think they were invincible? Do they think so little of our institution, our teachers, and our motto that defying it was what made sense to them? And then of course, as I was sitting in my office, talking to a set of parents who were baffled by the behavior of their son, it occurred to me that I am them.
I am a parent of a boy. A boy who in a few short years is going to have to navigate the world of friends, peer pressure, school, athletics, college, activities, and decisions. I may be the parent who is defending my son, or trying to at least understand what my son was thinking when no one else will. I tend to think I am the parent, who will condemn his actions, even if I understand him, when they are wrong and teach him why. It’s amazing to me as I talk to parents and listen to them defend their children regardless of how wrong they were in their actions.
What is my responsibility to him? These past weeks I thought a lot about how I could prevent this from happening to my son. I started thinking about the way we raise him. The way we will teach him right from wrong, good from bad and how to make the unpopular decision. I started thinking about why it’s our job as parents to be the ones to set expectations for him so that he knows clearly the people he will disappoint the most is us. I was thinking about how under all of the layers he MUST know that we are his allies. We will support him and love him well after the decision is made and the consequences are doled out.
I thought about all the times I disappointed my parents with choice I made. Maybe it was when I quit playing softball in college because my priorities shifted. Or maybe it was when I didn’t make Homecoming Court because I just wasn’t that nice in high school. Or maybe it was the time I got in a wreck on my way to softball because we just had to make a “pit stop” before the game. Or maybe it was the first or second time I chose to take a job in Chicago. Or the time I cheated on my Physics test and I got caught by Mr. Holbrook.
After all those things one thing remained the same. My parents, they love me. They support me. They are proud of me and I still to this day do not ever want to disappoint them. How did it get to that? How did it become ingrained in me that disappointing my parents was the ultimate consequence of any action in my mind? They never said it. They never will. But I know. And, I can only hope I have the grace, strength and presence to meet the challenges of being a parent the way mine did.