Have you ever heard something that shifted your perspective? While away at an afterschool conference, I acquired one of the most valuable pieces of wisdom on parenting that continues to guide me now. When I attended the workshop at the conference, I was a young single parent raising a seven-year-old daughter. I worked from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. I often questioned if I was doing an okay job as a mother and wondered how I could balance all my parental responsibilities. I value being a mother, and I wanted to spend more quality time with my daughter. These guilty thoughts weighed heavy on my conscious; however, after listening to the speaker’s words, my outlook on parenting shifted for the better.
Imagine a tall slim man, dramatically pointing his left arm forward and then quickly drawing his right arm back, forming an invisible bow and arrow. I watched and listened to his words very carefully. He convincingly compared parenting to aiming a bow and arrow at a target. He emphasized, “you keep aiming your children where you want them to go.” He said if you miss the target “keep aiming and releasing” and eventually you will see your children heading where you want them to go.
At that moment, his simple analogy provided me the confidence I needed to confirm that I was doing ok. I realized that my influence on my daughter’s life reflected the choices I made that would help her develop as an adult. I shifted my focus from the negative to the positive. Now, I am going to focus on what I am doing for her and what I can do for her in the future. As I continuously shape my daughter’s character, intellect, and humanity, I am also improving my approach through developing new parenting skills and wisdom.
Parents are SEL practitioners whether they know it or not. We play a critical role in helping our children develop social and emotional awareness. We model the skills, attitudes, and behaviors we desire our children to obtain. But we are only human, and parenting can be rough at times. As parents, we need support and guidance too.
If you are wondering how to promote social-emotional learning at home, CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has curated a list of resources that can help parents learn more about SEL parenting practices. You can access these resources at no cost, and continuously develop your skills as a parent and help develop your child to be the fantastic person they are.
Tiana Brown is the Assistant Director of the Norwalk Housing Authority’s Learning Centers