Joseph Scialabba is a single father from the Chicago area who unexpectedly lost the mother of his child to drug addiction. This blog post chronicles his experience with raising a female child alone in the 21st century.
The days have arrived for some of you parents, for the rest they are coming in short order, its back to school time, or as some parents call it, New Years in August... ok I made that up. Mine starts Kindergarten tomorrow, and I think it’s pretty safe to say that I'm far more nervous about it then she is. Between worrying about her enjoying her first day, and the intangibles like school violence and bullying my stomach has been in knots for about week now.
School really is a giant chunk of your kid’s life and, if it doesn't go well, especially at first, it can have lifelong consequences.
I hated school from a young age. I was bullied because I excelled in class, didn't get to rock a Starter Jacket, or the brand name Nikes, and didn't possess the world’s best social skills.
Being a parent now, I get it, because my folks had four kids to raise and those things weren't in the cards for us all the time. They made sure the bills were paid; we had food to eat, and had the pleasure of doing fun things like family vacations, so that money had to come from somewhere.
The point is, how your child assimilates in school, even when young, can have lifelong consequences. My experiences in grade school and high school directly affected me to the point where I decided to forgo finishing college and headed to the work force. I still get social anxiety sometimes, and for someone that earned a living organizing events for thousands of people, that still makes me laugh a bit.
Teach your kids how to deal with bullying if it’s being done to them, and if they are the bully themselves, ask them why they’re doing it.
Bullying has direct correlations to school violence, which wasn't something we had to deal with in my school days, save for the occasional fist fight. We didn't have to worry about some kid who was rejected from social circles wandering into school with a loaded gun and taking out his anger on people.
I found myself during her open house a few weeks ago, primarily asking security related questions. What’s their safety policy? Do the doors in the school have an auto-lock feature? What’s their emergency protocol? It’s something that I assume will make me uneasy until she finishes college, at which point I'll find new things to worry that relate to her safety.
Tell your kids it’s ok to be different. School should be an environment that is welcoming and inclusive. This is crucial to a child’s development. It warms my heart that mine is always willing to go up to other children in class and ask them to be friends, or to play, regardless of color, creed, religious denomination, or all the other criteria we adults use to divide and separate ourselves into the different bins of life. We really can learn a lot from our kids because most of our poor adult behaviors are learned. When you witness innocence at work it can be rather enlightening (assuming you're paying attention).
Take the time to work with your kids, read with them, & work with them. I know that's a lot sometimes after a 12 hour shift or brain damage from dealing with unruly customers all day, but it will pay them dividends for the rest of their life. Ask your kids how their day is; make sure they are enjoying their learning experience and, if not, find out how to help. Their experiences in school will affect the rest of their lives as well as yours.
For you non parents, this is just the week before September.
But for all you parents out there, Happy New Year!
DALGETY BAY, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 15: A school sign in Fife on the day pupils return after the school holidays there and across much of Scotland, amidst a controversy about national standardised testing of Primary One children, on August 15, 2018 in Dalgety Bay, Scotland. A campaign is being launched against the Scottish Government policy of standardised testing of all Primary One pupils throughout Scotland as the policy continues to attract strong criticism from opposition parties, the largest teaching union, charities, and many teachers and parents. (Photo by Ken Jack - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)