Summer Assignments (For Parents)

May.  What a month!  It was refreshingly busy.  The buzz of activity here at school and in our personal lives was evidence that we are rising from the era defined by Covid.  Like any transition, this is not without its challenges.  We are re-learning how to juggle the busy schedule, gather as an audience or faith community, prioritize values, socialize compassionately, and plan for the future. 

Perhaps it was the graduation ceremonies I attended for two of my sons that challenged me.  Although more than 600 miles separated these two events, the themes of the speakers were eerily similar.  Lead with faith, honor and respect mentors, work very hard, say “I love you,” and “I’m sorry,” and, of course, change the world.  

No question – these kids are brilliant.  Undoubtedly, they should be questioning norms and looking for positive solutions to problems.  But if we are to place this heavy burden upon our kids, if we are counting on them to truly change the world for the better, we must be willing to be models.  And that brings me to our summer assignments.  Not our kids’ summer assignments, but our own.

In the era of Covid, what we now face is an opportunity to recalibrate.  We, the adults, must model what it means to lead a life well lived.  Parents are truly a child’s first and most important teacher.  So, here’s our summer homework:  Evaluate and, if necessary, recalibrate our personal standards.  Reflect on daily habits.  What are our prayer habits, fitness habits, tech habits, dietary habits, social habits, sleep habits?  How do we spend our time?  How do we treat the people we love?  How do we treat the people who frustrate us?  Are we working to “change the world for the better” despite the inconvenience and heartbreak that often entails?

For better or worse, we had our childhood.  We are now the adults, and that comes with awesome responsibility.  In my home this summer, we will take a bit of time to reflect and recalibrate.  For ours is not the perfect family.  I find perfection unnatural and nerve wracking.  But that doesn’t mean we ought not strive for high standards.  As the adults, let’s spend this summer paying deeper attention to our own habits and those of our kids.  As we reevaluate our own tech usage, we must be aware of how our kids are communicating with and using technology.  As we work on the things of faith, let’s make time for family prayer and Mass.  As we practice positive socialization, let’s discuss ways to be a supportive audience or classmate.  Most importantly, let’s cherish the time we have with our kids.  It is finite.  They are worth our effort to reach for high standards.

May this era of recalibration lift our families and our entire community.  Happy Summer!

~Eileen McGuire, Dean of the IB Program