Glass Half Full: Children need to have appropriate social skills
Glass Half Full
Last month, I attended the memorial service of one of many “second mothers” in my life. I had the tremendous privilege of growing up on the campus of an excellent boarding school.
When I was a child, Thacher school was all-boys and small enough that all faculty lived on campus. It was there that we “faculty brats,” as children of teachers are known throughout the independent school world, traipsed in and out of each other’s houses on a regular basis. We all slept in our own homes, of course, but it was definitely a special village that helped raise us.
The service for “Aunt Betty” was attended by many strong, professional, accomplished, successful adults who shared my experience.
Several stories about Aunt Betty included references to the strong women who were our mothers and the many ways that we all benefitted from their shared beliefs and philosophies. It was not that all of our parents made identical choices or were totally in sync.
What was true was that none of them hesitated to step in as in loco parentis when any one of us was misbehaving. Back then, we were not always so thrilled by the fact that we could never get away with anything. Today we recognize the tremendous benefit we experienced because we knew we could never get away with anything.
Our parents were not interested in being our friends. They did not care if we liked what they told us to do or not. My parents spoke openly and consistently about their desire to raise my brothers and me so that we would be welcome in any social situation, whether it was one of peers or one populated mostly by adults.
Other faculty parents felt exactly the same way. Consequently, we recognized boundaries and, generally, knew how to comport ourselves, whether we were in public or in the homes of our friends. We were far from perfect, but we did know when we had crossed a line.
I am always surprised to find myself in a public place where children are running amok, and their parents either don’t notice or are reluctant to call a halt to the proceedings.
In such situations, it can seem that those parents are oblivious to the needs and sensitivities of those with whom they are sharing space, or else they simply believe the desires of their children are more important. I believe that not taking a firm stand does children a disservice.
It is our job, as parents, to help our sons and daughters learn appropriate social skills. Those include recognizing when being the center of attention is a good thing and when it is not.
To paraphrase an author whose name I do not recall, “It is not our job to prepare the world for our children; it is our job to prepare our children for the world.” That includes teaching them to behave in a manner that is respectful of others in public places.
Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at http://www.laketahoeschool.org.