Putting Family First

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Dear Flint Hill School Family,

Over the past few weeks, I have taken time to talk about grading, Back-to-School Nights, and our focus on relationships, balance and innovation. And while I hope all of this has been helpful to you as parents, I also don’t want us to lose sight of why we are doing all that we do. As faculty and staff, we always keep our students – your children – at the very center of everything we do.  It is also important for us to be reminded occasionally of what we need to do at home as well. I often mention that we have two major responsibilities as parents: we need to give our children unconditional love and get them educated!!  We need to enjoy parenting, we need to have fun with our children, and we need to make certain that they know that they are the center of all that we do.

As we charge into this fall and through this new school year, let’s challenge ourselves with several key responsibilities as parents:

  1. Make time with your families a priority. Let’s make certain that we find time to focus on our families. Time is precious – schedules are packed, but we need to do this. From family dinners and quiet time by the fireplace to watching a movie together on a weekend night, we need to make these “appointments” a priority. I remember years ago, a debate Emily and I had about “quality time versus quantity time.” Quality certainly is critical, but let’s never lose sight of the fact that time is time, and sometimes we just need to make a point to focus on our families and on our individual children. Years ago in graduate school, I conduced a major research project on retirement and how people felt as they approached that phase of their lives. I never heard anyone say they wished they had spent more time at work. Everybody said they wished they had spent more time with family.
  2. Listen. It is always important to find time to talk to our children about our core values and to share our life lessons with them. It is a major responsibility for parents, and we are our children’s first and most important teachers. However, we also need to make certain that we listen to them and learn from them. We listen to hear the great joy of their experiences and we listen to hear what they are thinking and what they are experiencing as life goes on. We also need to be careful about how easy it is for us to interrupt them when they talk. With the best of intentions, we may keep “jumping in” while they share our tales, our “words of wisdom” and our “life lessons” with us. At other times, that feedback from us may feel far more like we’re “talking at them” rather than with them.
  3. Enjoy our children.  Sometimes it seems like a cliché to talk about how quickly time passes with our children, but it’s true. So it is important to cherish our children, our grandchildren and all of our loved ones, because the time with them is special. Whether they are in the Lower, Middle or Upper School, we need to cherish who our children are now and our time with them.

Years ago, I shared with parents the song “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin and the impact it had on my life. At one time, Emily and I were saving money for a down payment to move out of the dorms and off campus at the school where we worked. Emily was tutoring like crazy on top of teaching, and I was teaching Psychology at two local colleges at night and on weekends, and doing the Parent Education at a Children’s Developmental Clinic on Saturdays. We had two young children at home, and I told myself I was doing it all for them. After finishing up one Saturday, as I was driving home, I was thinking about all of the work I had left to do when suddenly “Cats in the Cradle” came on the radio. The lyrics hit me like a hammer. Here I was, teaching all these classes and constantly working to help other people raise their children, and I wasn’t even there for my own! When I got home, Emily and I decided that after that semester, we were going to pull back on some of what we were doing so we would have more time with the kids.

I shared that story with our kids over a meal when they were teenagers, and it became a family joke. Whenever there were sentimental moments at home, the kids would begin to hum “Cats in the Cradle” or even sing the words. But I got them back in a sense that we created a family tradition. As each of them graduated from college and was ready to go off into their lives, we gave them a framed copy of the lyrics of the song, and I am proud to say that they are hung on the walls in each of their homes. Now, when they tell me about how busy they are, I remind them of the song’s lyrics and the importance of spending time with Annadel, Henry, Reed and Ella!!

Enjoy, listen and make your family a priority! There is plenty of work to be done, and there are plenty of learning moments that will come along the way. But that social-emotional connection we need to have with our children and our families is at the core of everything we do.  Relationships aren’t just something we talk about at school as part of our educational plan. They are part of our life plan!

Have a good week and weekend.  I look forward to seeing you soon.

Best wishes to you!

Sincerely,
John M. Thomas

Headmaster[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_wp_custommenu nav_menu=”312″][templatera id=”17051″][/vc_column][/vc_row]