My son completed school last year after 13 years at Charlton, so during the last few months I’ve loved watching him ‘adult’! He’s navigating life beyond Charlton well and as a parent, this is really lovely to see. However, what I’m most proud of has nothing to do with his success in commencing university or working in a field he loves, it’s simply seeing the young man he’s now become and his ability to navigate life in society well. In short, I’m now seeing the result of the ‘intentional parenting’ we did over the years when we were purposeful about how we parented and didn’t take our role as parents lightly or assume that our children would just ‘turn out ok’.

My husband and I made deliberate choices about how we would raise our children. This involved things like setting clear boundaries and expectations and making trust, communication and mutual respect priorities in our home. It was important to us that we instilled values of kindness and empathy and for our children to develop a strong moral compass based on Biblical values and principles. We’ve also spent time nurturing our children’s strengths, interests and personality traits and have invested time in developing their confidence, resilience, persistence and self-esteem.

Recently, I was reminded of a quote by Billy Graham, a prominent Christian evangelist, The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.”

Parenting is a tough gig, and I believe that doing it well takes a lot of hard work, reflection,  intentionality and prayer. In an era where society is changing rapidly and the messages being given to our children are sometimes blurred, it’s important that as parents we stop and ponder the immensely important role we play in equipping our children with the skills necessary for them to thrive in life and to be able to face difficulties and challenges in a post-school environment with resilience and adaptability.

In recent years, there’s been a growing trend towards overprotective parenting whereby children are sheltered and protected from disappointment and hardship and parents feel the need to step in and solve their children’s problems or do things for them. While the parent’s intentions behind these actions are, no doubt, well-meaning, the long-term consequences can be quite harmful and deprive children of the opportunity to develop crucial life skills.

Let me encourage you to ask yourself what important skills and character traits you want your children to leave school armed with, and then embrace the responsibility of helping to equip them with these. Many character traits, including such things as resilience, confidence, and persistence don’t come naturally to children and are best developed and nurtured when children are young before poor habits form. It’s important to take the time to model what these traits look like in different situations and have deliberate conversations about your child’s development of these, and of their importance.

Often our parent-hearts want to wrap our kids in cotton wool and make life easy for them or make excuses for their actions or things they may be struggling with. Yet this style of parenting certainly isn’t best for them. The best thing for them is to be parented in such a way that doesn’t give them a crutch, but instead equips them with the necessary tools to be able to contribute positively and effectively in society and be able to navigate life’s complexities well.

While my oldest child may now be ‘adulting’, and I’m learning that parenting adult children is very different, I’ll always prioritise my role as ‘Mum’ and continue to nurture and guide him in all that lies ahead. My other child still has many years of school left, so we’re still parenting intentionally and working hard to ensure she develops the character traits, values and skills we think are important for her future.  If you’re also at this stage of life, let me encourage you in your intentional parenting journey and I pray that you too will see the rewards of your intentional parenting in the years to come!

Mrs Vicki Gunning / Head of Junior School