Dear Parents, Students and Friends of the College,
Whether you’re a parent with a student in Prep or Year 12, chances are that there have been times when you have considered whether to go up to the school about an issue that is affecting your child and sort it out immediately.
When helping your child, working out what requires and does not require your intervention can be tricky. If your child’s physical, psychological or mental health is in danger then you should intervene. However, if the issue is not of this magnitude, ask yourself this; what would happen if I didn’t go to the school about this issue? Sometimes refraining from intervening may be the best thing for your child because if they have just had a bad day and need to offload, the best thing they need is an adult ear. In this situation, the best intervention is usually just to listen, understand and gently guide them out of the whirlwind of their emotions. “An important part of being a parent is helping a young person to learn to deal with disappointments and difficulties for him or herself. We can help our children learn to cope emotionally with uncomfortable feelings by being there and listening to them. We can acknowledge that sometimes life is challenging or unfair but that we can learn to cope with this. Helping your teenager recognise their emotional reactions by acknowledging them (but not necessarily acting on them) can improve their emotional resilience.’’ Michael Hawton, Psychologist (MAPS)
Adolescents are eager to become adults. Part of growing into adulthood requires them to increase their capacity to deal with pain, in other words to develop resilience. Resilience is built on a bedrock of accepting that painful experiences are a part of life. Without painful experiences a person will remain emotionally immature. With painful experiences they will grow into strong adults provided the adults around them teach them to use the pain for their growth.
Teenagers receive a lot of practice to manage their emotional states from a great deal of pressures that school life places upon them. In this environment they grow in the virtue of fortitude and with it they grow in resilience. So, when, as a parent, you are faced with a teenager that is suffering and you are wondering if you should approach the school to resolve the problem for them, first consider whether the problem could be resolved by your teenager; if so, you may be robbing them of an opportunity to develop resilience and grow more towards adulthood.
“The answer for teenagers is tied up in their capacity to tolerate pain or in their capacity to handle unpleasant feelings. The more they are able to face the pain they experience, the more resourceful they become.” (Joan Rosenberg, Psychologist.)
If the problem cannot be resolved without your intervention, then go ahead and contact the school so that we can help. Either way the outcome should remain the same, namely the formation of the youth into adulthood.
Sincerely yours in the Two Hearts,
Father Andrew Cranshaw