This report seems to indicate that some parts of the country encourage their children to learn more than others but I think there’s a much bigger picture and lots of questions around this idea. The assumption is that all children want to go to university and want to achieve well academically and actually all of our kids are different and university is not going to be for everyone and it’s about, as parents, trying to get the best out of them.
In our ‘Parenting teenagers’ course at Care for the Family, we talk about the greatest A* being emotional health. We talk about how to help our children get over what can be a tightrope. I have four children and for one of them, whenever I encouraged him to do some revision in his GCSE year that would be the cue to hear the guitar strumming upstairs. It got to be a bit of an issue between us, I was on his back nagging him and actually I should have taken a better approach!
Receiving good parental input can massively change our children’s prospects, in terms of our approach to them. If we get their school report and they’ve got an F in chemistry and an A in design, what do we do? We say: “Let’s get them some help in chemistry.” Actually the best thing to do is to get them help in the subject that they’re best at so they can flourish in it and be confident and go on to achieve in that. Rather than just concentrating on the negative, let’s spot the things our children are good at and help them with those. It can go a long way in terms of our relationship with them but also in helping them to achieve and make a difference in the world.
The Church can provide a really great support around that. So many churches are running parenting courses in the community which equip parents to be able to give those skills to their children, to enable parents to come alongside and communicate better, deal with boundaries and manage conflict situations. Perhaps your child is struggling with an academic subject such as maths and maybe there’s a maths teacher at your church who could help them. The role of children’s and youth groups are also important, coming alongside and mentoring and encouraging children and young people in lots of different ways, making it a kind of community thing. That goes a long way.
The Church can be absolutely key but primarily it is parents, whether we’re parenting on our own, in blended families or in a marriage. Every parent can come alongside and encourage their child in what they’re good at. Each parent knows their child and loves their child best and most parents are doing better than they think!