Being a parent is the hardest job. Nothing else comes close. There are no GCSEs or A Levels in parenting. There is no manual.
Whether one is a tiger mother or a freedom father we tend to feel our way, at times, in the darkness towards what we hope is an adequacy of understanding. But we don’t always have teenagers who willingly listen, keen to embrace such understanding.
There are times, of course, when our sons and daughters would flip the postulation and claim that being a teenager is the hardest job. Of course they would. We parents and teachers know that all it takes is one mistimed correction or an ill-put observation and their pre-frontal cortex switches off as the reptilian brain takes over. There is science behind this, of course. We are told that the myelinated brain only gets back into front-loading reason and consequence by the time the young people are in their early twenties.
So if the teenage brain experiences, on a regular basis and for reasons of human evolution, irrationality and deep emotion (just think about what happens at the end of Romeo and Juliet) then does this mean anything for us hard-pressed parents?
I think so. I think we have much to offer.
What we world-weary grown-ups have in abundance is a much cooler and perhaps a little more objective view of life. This means, in obvious terms, that we are better at identifying risk than our children are.
Soon the first shoots of spring will announce that the longer days will offer greater freedoms to our young people. Come to OSH on the evening of Friday 10th March to hear our local police constables discuss what we can do to keep our children safe during the holidays and the spring and summer party and festival season.
As the weather improves ever more, on the evening of 24th May you can come and hear Karl Hopwood, a leading cyber security and welfare expert discuss young people in cyber space, the importance of their digital footprint and how parents can support schools in educating young people about the dangers which accompany online freedoms. See Karl at http://www.childnet.com/what-we-do/staff-and-trustees/trustees/karl-hopwood
Having acquired such information – how can we share our insight with our children?
This is the difficult bit and here our parental method may differ. If you are feeling bold, however, go to www.inourplace.co.uk and set up an account. OSH parents will be emailed a coupon code by Mrs Oakes today. The courses have been developed by some people we have been working with on our mindfulness initiative which begins after the February half term. The courses range from understanding the teenage brain and communicating with teenagers to grandparenting.
Have a go and let us know how you get on via @solihullaproach (with just the one p).
Do remember that parents usually get through to our teenagers in the end. As Mark Twain conceded:
When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.