Reflections on parenting in a pandemic
X
Published: 15-Jul-2021

Reflections on parenting in a pandemic

I am not quite certain of what the solution may be for the troubling and turbulent nature of our times. I am certain of the tremendous amount of stress, unease and fear that may very well be part and parcel of each and every household in our country today. Predictability is beyond elusive today - it simply does not seem to exist.


Perhaps more apparent than ever today is the elusiveness of any semblance of predictability. Ironically, a degree of predictability and routine is precisely one of the most fundamental elements that young, developing boys (and adults) require in order to feel safe and secure. Safety, in the interests of a growing lad, transcends physical boundaries and definitions. A knowledge and certainty of a young   boy’s safety is an integral part of his social and emotional development.

A person who feels safe will be more inclined to explore and actively engage and experience the world around them, and grow somewhat more able to learn.

"Predictability and routine reinforce a sense of safety."

I am not quite certain of what the solution may be for the troubling and turbulent nature of our times. I am certain of the tremendous amount of stress, unease and fear that may very well be part and parcel of each and every household in our country today. Predictability is beyond elusive today - it simply does not seem to exist.

Upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway, on 11 December 1979, Mother Theresa profoundly asserted that “Love begins at home.” If, just momentarily, we are able to step away from the hazardous quagmire of disinformation found on social media platforms - away from the fear factor - and to focus on those wise words of a revered Roman Catholic nun, famous for her work among the poor and dying in Calcutta in India, our boys will benefit. In days, not too long ago, when I taught more and managed less, I am not certain if I ever rated myself   too highly on the traditional scale of excellence as a teacher.

 "Love begins at home"

Marking was not a pastime I enjoyed much and often fell to the bottom of my list of priorities. I did   however consider marking and assessment as two entirely different categories within the educational toolset. One thing that I was able to do - especially in times of trouble and classroom disruption - was to calm the class by telling stories. Storytelling, either on the spot, or through a carefully chosen novel always allowed me to transport young minds away from the confusion of the present; a reboot, if you like. I relied heavily on two elements in teaching, and perhaps nothing really has changed too much.

I placed the emphasis of the relational dimension in my classroom as being paramount - it was placed above any other priority. The second priority was ensuring that I would read. I would tell stories. And in so doing, would transport the minds and hearts of boys back to their dreams, their aspirations, tapping into that deep place that rests somewhere between the sternum and the depth of the tummy (I am not a Biology teacher either) where laughter originates and travels up, warming the chest as it echoes in the room - and then the climate changes. There is calm. In my reading “love began” in the classroom. I would allow myself to be ever so slightly vulnerable, off-guard, and in so doing began to form those ever important relationships.

In a place in time that breeds fear and uncertainty, being a parent is at the very least, not easy. David Brooks, author of The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement, offers some relevant and important guidance.

"I find it reassuring that as parents we are not required to be brilliant psychologists to succeed. We also do not need to be supremely gifted teachers."

The training we do with our children through flashcards; special drills and tutorials in the hope that we will hone them into perfect achievement machines don’t really have any effect at all. As parents, Brooks asserts, we just have to be good enough. Admittedly not easy at all today, we have to try and provide our boys with stable, predictable rhythms. Warmth and discipline need to be combined so that we fall somehow into our boys’ needs. In the face of stress, our boys need to be able to fall back on long established emotional bonds. Regardless of how difficult or how dire our situation, the hope of our boys is reliant on the living examples around them of how to cope with the problems of the world. Tell them stories. Be vulnerable to them. Allow them to see your stories as past adventures so that they may continue to dream and aspire to be all that God would have them be in this world.

Mother Theresa is surely right; love does indeed begin at home. I ask that you remember that our relentlessly hard-working staff are all very much a part of that sort of love. We will continue to do our level best to provide your sons with the predictability for which they yearn. We will continue to love them - more now than ever before.

I would like you all to know that I think of our community of parents, boys, and staff constantly. I wish you all strength and ask that we all are reminded by Psalm 46:1 in that:

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”.

 Back to back to Latest News at St Benedict's

 
St Benedict's College