Of Brookwood’s many traditions, the New Parents’ Dinner is one of my favorites. I like the event because it’s incredibly rewarding to meet with parents who have recently made a commitment to join the Brookwood community. It’s also gratifying to share with them my thoughts on how they can most enjoy their child's Brookwood experience.
What are my wishes for Brookwood parents, new and returning alike? I hope, as you have heard many of us say, that you will find ways to get involved with the Parents’ Association and other volunteer opportunities in our community. We’ve also urged you to call us if you have any concern -- "Don't worry alone," as we say.
But my real wish for each of you is that you simply enjoy your child's time here at Brookwood. Whether it is two years or ten, I hope that you will savor all the moments: the good, the bad, the challenges, the successes. Trust that your child will continue to thrive even when it appears they are stuck. Know that the school is designed to help all different kinds of kids during all different stages in development.
And here is the biggest secret I have learned after 34 years of working with this age group: Children Grow Up. No matter how much you worry or protect them, no matter how much you as a parent mess up or make all the right decisions, children grow up. Trust that by enrolling them in Brookwood, you are giving them a great education, a foundation for future success, and a vast amount of love. They really do all the rest. So now, just relax and enjoy the experience.
By entering into this partnership with Brookwood and maintaining a curious mindset, you are already well on the way to new discoveries about your child: Each child learns differently, and each child develops physically, emotionally, cognitively, and socially at his or her own rate.
What will be your child's learning profile? At what rate will your child develop? If you have more than one child, how will each differ from the other. A curious parent appreciates the "hard wiring" of each child and knows that each child will have differing needs and attributes.
You might want to monitor the amount of time you devote to fixing, preempting, and fretting about your child as compared to the amount of time you spend in pure fascinating observation of him or her. How much time do you spend “helping” or “protecting” in an attempt to inoculate your child against life's inevitable and necessary disappointments and pain?
If you see your parenting role as similar to that of an airline pilot, always searching for the altitude with the least amount of turbulence, then you may find that your child arrives at his or her destination with little sense of having traveled any great distance at all.
You might also want to ask yourself how and when you learned the most valuable lessons that helped make you a strong, confident person. Are you hopeful your children will have similar experiences or are you doing all you can to help them avoid those challenging yet developmentally critical moments? At what point does our own anxiety enslave our children? It is a question that needs repeating because we know that worried parents raise worrying children.
Ultimately, we, as parents, all need to find a balance between making our children happy and allowing them to experience the world in a way that allows them to become resilient, confident and content.
We say it often, but we truly mean it: Thank you for sharing your children with us. We look forward to being curious with you and discovering the multiple intricacies that make your child a uniquely special person.