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The Radical Mother - Parental Involvement Keeps Trouble From Sneaking Up On You

By Mariah Boone

Parental Involvement Keeps Trouble From Sneaking Up On You

Working with truants, I see children with a variety of problems. I also see many kinds of parents. Some parents of children with horrible attendance records will vociferously assert that their child goes to school every day and has never been in trouble.
Some of these parents are, for want of a better word, lying. Many more of them are engaging in the fascinating psychological phenomenon of denial. Still others, however, are genuinely clueless about what is going on with their children. They do not understand how their child has mysteriously become delinquent, and they repeat phrases like “I drop him off at school every day. He doesn’t give me any trouble at home.” I don’t say things like: Do you ever see him at home? Why doesn’t he know what you do for a living? Have you noticed that he’s shaved his head and wears a Confederate flag? – such comments would not be helpful.
Instead I would like to suggest some techniques that will almost ensure that you find out about your child’s problems before they require the intervention of a lot of police officers and mental health professionals. First, you should know the names of each of your child’s teachers and the names of each of the classes in which your child is enrolled. Sound hard? It gets worse. You should also personally meet each of these teachers within the first couple of weeks of school. I know you’re busy, but this will actually save time in the long run – court time.
When you meet these teachers, you should tell them about your child and your family and let them know that you will keep them informed of any major changes that your child might be experiencing at home. Request that teachers let you know any time that your child misbehaves, seems unlike herself, or misses their class without an excuse from you. Give teachers your home, work, pager, fax and cell phone numbers – any numbers you have – and encourage teachers to use them. Call the school every once in a while to make sure that your child is really there. Attend all open houses and parent-teacher conferences, and attend as many of your child’s school functions as is humanly possible.
Talking to your children is also important. Look over their homework on a regular basis and keep abreast of what they are studying in each class. If your middle-schooler or high-schooler tells you that she doesn’t have any homework, she is lying and it’s time to set up a conference with her teachers.
Make sure your children know about your life. Your children should absolutely know how to reach you in an emergency. They should know where you work and what you do there, as well as little details like their stepfather’s last name. Know your children’s friends and know their friends’ parents. Make sure your children have plenty of supervision from responsible adults.
These are very basic steps in keeping responsibly aware of your child’s well-being. The value of these suggestions is that, if you follow them, you will know when your child is having problems. Knowing about your child’s problems allows you to find ways to help before those problems get out of hand, and before you find out more about the juvenile justice system than you ever wanted to know.
About The Author:
Name: Mariah Boone
Mariah Boone is a mother, social worker, writer and the publisher of Lone Star Ma: The Magazine of Progressive Texas Parenting and Children’s Issues.

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