October 16, 2018
Dear Parents and Guardians,
I am always cautious to share parenting advice. Parents and guardians of Taft students clearly have already done good work, reflected so wonderfully in our students. Still, parenting adolescents is challenging. Adolescents do not come with an instruction book and what seems to have worked yesterday can suddenly stop working, for no apparent reason, today. The faculty here spend a significant amount of time trying to figure out the puzzle of our 600 individual adolescents. I want to share a thought that may be helpful in your own experience.
Dr. Lea Waters talks about strengths-based parenting and how to overcome our inherent “negativity bias” as we look at things (re: our children) about which we care a great deal. Much like when we look at a dirty window, we see the dirt and miss the view through the window. The dirt is akin to the things about our children we find frustrating and that we feel aren’t helping our child be their best self.
Dr. Waters suggests that we focus on the view
the window, helping our child see their many strengths and talents. We also want them to address the dirt on the window, helping them make the most of the view. Remember with these windows, your child needs to do the work and pointing out the mess will only remind you that your child hasn’t done it yet.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t point out the dirt. Point it out, and do it within the context of highlighting your child’s strengths. In other words, let your child know that the most important thing is the beautiful view — all that is great about your child. Your pointing out the dirt is only to help the child make the adjustments to make the view even better. Dr. Waters goes into much greater detail about how to do this part and I highly recommend giving her short article
How to be a Strength-Based Parent
a look. Having had an opportunity to get to know each of your children a bit, I promise they each have significant strengths that far outweigh the frustrating behaviors they sometimes choose.
We are now in the thick of the school year. Academics, arts, athletics, and life at Taft are at full speed. We are working on our end to help our students build on their many strengths to become their best selves. We appreciate your entrusting them to us, and we are looking forward to having many of you on campus later this week for Parents’ Weekend.
All the best,