Without a doubt, raising children to be balanced adults in today’s society is no easy task.
THE U.S. NATIONAL Institute of Mental Health published the results of a survey of parents who were considered successful—those whose children, aged over 21, “were all productive adults who were apparently adjusting well to our society.” These parents were asked: ‘Based on your personal experience, what is the best advice you could give to other parents?’ The most frequent responses were these: ‘Love abundantly,’ ‘discipline constructively,’ ‘spend time together,’ ‘teach your children right from wrong,’ ‘develop mutual respect,’ ‘really listen to them,’ ‘offer guidance rather than a speech,’ and ‘be realistic.’
Parents, however, are not alone in working to produce well-adjusted young adults. Educators too play a key role in this. An experienced school counselor observed: “The primary objective of formal education is to support parents in producing responsible young adults who are well-developed intellectually, physically, and emotionally.”
So parents and educators share the same goal—to produce youths who will later become mature and balanced adults who enjoy life and are able to find their place in the society in which they live.
Coworkers, Not Competitors
Problems, however, arise when parents fail to cooperate with educators. Some parents, for example, are completely indifferent to their children’s education; others try to compete with the teachers. Discussing this situation, a French journal said: “The teacher is no longer the only captain on board. Parents, obsessed with their children’s success, dissect schoolbooks, judge and criticize teaching methods, and instantly react to their offspring’s first bad mark.” Such actions can encroach on the prerogatives of teachers.
Jehovah’s Witnesses feel that their children are better served when parents cooperate with educators, taking an active, helpful interest in their children’s education. Such cooperation, they believe, is especially important because your job as an educator has become increasingly difficult.
School Problems Today
Reflecting the society of which they are a part, schools are not sheltered from the problems of society in general. Social problems have intensified rapidly over the years. Describing conditions in one school in the United States, The New York Times reported: “Students sleep in class, they threaten each other in the graffiti-scarred hallways, they belittle the good students. . . . Almost all the students are coping with problems like caring for babies, dealing with incarcerated parents and surviving gang violence. On any given day, almost one-fifth are absent.”
Especially alarming is the growing international problem of violence in schools. Occasional fights involving pushing and shoving have been replaced by routine shootings and stabbings. Weapons have become more common, attacks more severe, with children resorting to violence more quickly and at a younger age.
Doubtless, not every country faces such grim conditions. However, many educators worldwide confront the situation mentioned in the French weekly Le Point: “The teacher is no longer respected; he has no authority.”
Such disrespect for authority poses a real danger to all children. So Jehovah’s Witnesses try to instill in their children obedience and respect for authority, qualities that are often lacking in school life today.