One of the most ironic truisms of parenting is that if you do your job even reasonably well, your kids will leave you. (They are just as likely, if not more so, to leave you if you’ve done your job poorly, but for now let’s choose to accentuate the positive.) I reflect on this point because my first-born child, Matilda, will be departing the nest in a few weeks’ time to head to university. But no matter your kid’s age, fall becomes keenly and irrevocably associated with twin cyclical concerns: preparation and separation. September reminds us that we must get used to the idea, year to year, gradation by gradation, that our children are ever in a developmental process of leaving us.
Intellectually, parents at such key transitional stages — whether it is the significant first day of preschool or the watershed first day of college, or any of so many gut-twisting mile markers in between — know that each rite of educational passage should be celebrated, and, perhaps selfishly, internalized as a validation that we’ve successfully prepared our child for what’s next. In our glummer moments, we console ourselves that our consistently demonstrated love for and faith in our children is proved in the awkward tango (and let’s be honest, no one really wants to see parents tango) of leaning in while simultaneously stepping back.
Whether we as parents are facing our child’s first day of school ever or our kid’s last day under our roof (gulp), our job description doesn’t necessarily seem all that much clearer at each successive stage. That is why this month’s issue is aimed at addressing a number of perennial preoccupations of parenting, for, fundamentally, these concerns never really abate, no matter the age of our children.
Jason Reid, profiled in this month’s Parent Day Jobs, lost his 14-year-old son to suicide in 2018; through his nonprofit ChooseLife.org, he is on a mission to reach every parent with his family’s story and to share a critical message about how we must prioritize the mental health of our children as much as we do their physical well-being. Our feature explores how area public and private schools are riding the ed-tech wave to enhance learning and communication outcomes for our students, especially when access to technology is an issue of equity.
Advocating for our children’s education can be a tough balancing act — Beyond the PTA advances suggestions for striking a healthy balance point on the continuum of helicoptering to more appropriate ways to involve ourselves in the classroom at every age and stage. Nurturing our kids’ healthy bodies and quenching a thirsty cultural spirit come down to providing a steady diet of nourishing food and family-friendly seasonal arts.
We expect you will champion the young people featured in this month’s It Starts With You(th) column — local middle school students Ian Price and Zoe Schurman have demonstrated through their dedicated climate action activism that you’re never too young to make a measurable impact.
Good luck to all families in the new school year ahead! (And to my brilliant and beautiful daughter Matilda: My heart is bursting with pride for you — go get ’em, sweetie.)