Embracing your dual roles of parent and teacher

being both parent and teacher

Parents often feel conflicted about being both parent and teacher.
They don't know how those two roles will combine, or how to 'switch hats',
so to speak. 

Here's some good news—you don't have to switch hats. Parent and teacher are not separate roles. How do I know this? Because every parent teaches their child important core skills, starting at birth. How to speak, identify objects and concepts, how to crawl, then how to walk. Parents read to their children, take them to the store, the doctor, the zoo, the children's museum. 

Every one of these experiences adds up to a child learning about the world and their place in it. When parents divorce themselves from the learning process, they do themselves and their children a disservice. 

We've placed professional teachers on a pedestal to the extent that we have demoted parenting to an act of reproduction and basic caretaking, with schools in the overarching role of character building, education, and life preparation. 

This couldn't be further from the truth, or the truth as it should be. 

Teachers train in how to impart knowledge to large groups of children, and how to assess their progress. This is a good thing, and I would never want to be perceived as dismissive of the importance of education for a healthy society, and how teachers contribute to that effort. 

But parents are the most essential element of the learning process. Whether you are a homeschool parent or your children attend a school, you are the linchpin, and your child's success hinges on your involvement, support, and perseverance. 

I think what parents most often fear is the vulnerability of teaching academics, because you will inevitably have to speak these words--"I don't know."  

Here's some more good news; saying "I don't know" is an important life skill to learn. Is it really better to pretend you know something, or to stand silent and afraid to ask a question and learn?  

No, it isn't better. Your children need to understand that learning is a lifelong process. They will need to acquire knowledge and skills their entire life if they want to be productive and successful. Your example in this area is important, and it starts with saying, "I don't know", and continues with "Let's find out!" 

As a parent/teacher, you may sometimes have to express your ignorance, but you also will share your experiences, interests, and passions with the people you love the most. You will learn alongside them, showing them how to admit they are afraid, and to work through it. You may sometimes be wrong and have to apologize or stand corrected.  

In other words, you will be human.  

But who better to be human with than your children?  

Don't be intimidated or feel like a second class citizen as a parent. Society is built on healthy personal relationships, and one of the most foundational relationships is that of parent and child. You are not arbitrary or optional. So no matter where your child receives their academic training, you must be deeply involved in their lives, encouraging them to read, explore, study, and listen. You are responsible to help them form good habits and develop character graced with compassion, generosity, courage, and conviction.  

Embrace  your identity as both parent and teacher,
and don't give them up for anyone or anything.