How to cultivate a positive parent involvement?

Father and daughter.

Successful families get along well together, but this requires effort.

So parents who want to influence their children positively seek to cultivate a cooperative family spirit.

Carol, a single parent of two teenage girls says,

"We discuss family business honestly and almost on a daily basis. Sometimes the girls will hold their problems back because they feel I have enough of my own. I can tell when they do this, for they get into arguments over silly things. I have to remind them that the family arrangement works best when we talk out our problems with one another honestly.”

Money is a source of problems in many families, but Carol says that her being open with the girls regarding the family’s financial situation has elicited their support.

She explains,

"I encourage them to find jobs to earn their own money for the extra things they would like. I respect them for earning it and let them know it is their money.”

Some parents use their family’s financial situation to teach their children about money, budgeting, banking, and mathematical skills.

“Another lesson we have been able to teach through this arrangement,” observes Henry, father of three boys and a girl, “is cooperation in family activities through involvement.”

But where can parents find the time for such communication?

Audrey, a mother of two, says that because of her tight schedule, she invites the children to join her while she runs errands. She gets her talking time in then.

Handling Problems

In order to maintain communication with their kids, parents need to learn to listen carefully to their children.

Attentive listening builds trust, and this is vital in handling problems successfully.

For example, when Leon and Carolyn learned that their eldest daughter, Nikki, was skipping school and failing some courses, Carolyn’s first reaction was to blame the bad influence of school friends.

However, Leon explained: “I suggested we reserve judgment until we had all the facts.”

Leon notes,

But even then, it took a week of patient, gentle probing and listening before we reached the root of Nikki’s problem. What a shock it was to us! Nikki felt we weren't interested in her, since we had been so busy with our own activities! Carolyn and I made adjustments, and Nikki responded by becoming more alert to her responsibilities around the house and at school.”

Dan and Dorothy have eight children.

These spend an hour and a half on school buses each day, and a major problem has been the worsening conditions there.

When the older ones were in school, it was an easy matter to utilize the time on the bus to do homework or catch up on reading, Dan noted. “In just the last 12 years, however, that has all changed. 

Now there are many unwholesome distractions—foul language, loud rock music , and smoke from cigarettes and marijuana, usually in the rear of the bus.”

Dan explained that they brainstormed this problem with the children. He says,

Two ideas surfaced, sit as close to the bus driver as possible, and equip each child with lightweight headphones connected to a personal AM/FM cassette player. Now the children are able to isolate themselves from the trouble, enjoying easy-listening music while they read or do light homework. The solution seems rather simple, but it has worked!”

Parental involvement in education

During the school year, students spend about six hours a day under the direct influence of teachers.

Parents who appreciate what that means in terms of learning potential for their children will want to see to it that this time is well spent.

A mother of three children explained how she and her husband made sure that their children were doing well in school.

She relates that,

“when John and I were dissatisfied with one of our children’s classes, we would go to the school and work out a suitable adjustment with the guidance counselor, the teacher, or the principal. We stayed deeply involved in our children’s formal education from beginning to end. Now that it is over, we are satisfied they got the best of what was available to them.”

However, parents should wisely cooperates with the school system. 

“One thing I remember about my parents,” says Wesley, “is that they never interfered with the teacher’s classroom strategies."

They realized that the teaching process can be varied.

Children may also need help with their school work, and part of a parent’s job is to become involved.

For example, Sally says this about her father,

"when I was baffled by the process that would get me to the answer of a math problem, Dad would give me the answer and let me struggle with the process until I figured it out. I knew I had it when my answer matched Dad’s.”

All the Effort Worth It

Indeed, rearing children successfully is a complex, long-term assignment.

Some have called it a 20-year project.

You as a parents should be self-sacrificing, not self-indulgent.

Be ready to make adjustments.

Most important, realize that to help your children, you must ‘be there,’ and you must expend yourselves by providing the time, love, and concern that your children really need.

When you do your part, the results may be comparable to the harvest of a farmer who prepares the soil and then plants, cultivates, and waters his crop.

You may be rewarded with a delightful harvest.