If you've ever read an article about parenting, there is a better than fair chance that it says you're doing it wrong. Snow plows, helicopters, and tigers are actually really kind of cool in their own right, but apparently when applied to parenting, they are synonymous with Darth Vader—who by the way is not considered a great parent. Clearing the way, hovering, and bearing your teeth are just not acceptable in polite company. It seems to me that rather than labeling parents as maniacal task masters, we might do better to provide encouraging and positive metaphors. To that end, I'd like to offer The Farmer Parent for consideration.
Farmer Parents plant their children in the rich soil of school with exquisite care. They've chosen the school because they believe their child will grow optimally there. In concert with the Farmer Parent, teachers and classmates serve as nourishers by providing experiences and opportunities for growth. In truth, watching children grow is not for the faint of heart. A former colleague likened examining child development to stopping a surgery midway and asking how things look. It's only after the sutures are in and the swelling goes down that there are clear signs of recovery. As it relates to child development, we can look for post-adolescent recovery in the population of twenty-five year olds.
When you consider that every farmer's harvest will either be eaten or rot, I recognize that my metaphor falls apart or is just kind of gross— but hopefully the basic concept is affirming. There are many factors that influence growth in children but being patient is one of the most important aspects of the process for parents. Unfortunately, patience isn't an action step, and in an action oriented society, perceived inaction can induce feelings ranging from insecurity to panic. We so badly want to ensure that our children are growing in the way that we dreamed that we sometimes forget that growth takes time and doesn't always require intervention. Yes, there are times when our little saplings need some extra care and support, but in general, they often do quite well without too much digging around.
So here's to the Farmer Parent in all of us. It's hard work but our little cabbages are appreciative of our efforts.
Design and empathy, technology and empathy, problem-solving and empathy. Empathy plays a fundamental role in how we function as a society, and as it relates to education, in understanding the cognitive and social-emotional needs of children. This site is dedicated to the exploration and promotion of empathy in education and its broader applications.