The Art of Growing Up ( review) The Early Chapters

The People Who Matter Most – Parents

The title of the first chapter grabs my attention, the cogs in my brain quicken trying to position my reaction to the words, The People Who Matter Most – parents.

I guess it revolves around the angle that you see things from I want to argue the point straight away – children matter most! I park my thoughts for a moment and take in the pages where Marsden lays on the table a series of statistics and anecdotes and references that strike a chord with me about the role of a parent.

The general theme of toxicity during parenting described in this chapter are extreme situations that as a principal I witnessed with many students over the years. With the lack of love, care and interest or being over indulged and rescued, children inevitably have struggles with behaviours and emotions throughout school, adolescence and often adult life.

The pictures of these students fill my mind, tears my eyes, memories of situations that often caused my own emotions to spill over.  Marsden sends a strong message about emotions and emotional intelligence early in the piece that makes me wonder about my own successes and failures as a parent, principal and friend.

The absence of love and emotion and the presence of abuse, extreme discipline and vengeance all descriptors of key historical figures who would be wax figures in Madame Tussaud’s Chamber of Horrors. The chapter continued to outline how the extreme failings of parents had caused their children to become infamous figures in history.

Data was also presented about prisoners in our justice system and their experiences as children which was confronting but expected.

Thankfully the chapter progresses into a more common zone about the impact of parents on their children and the concept of finding a balance between being authoritarian or too lenient. In my role as a father and principal this is a continuous struggle especially as principal when you are faced with the many varied beliefs and views of a school community.

I look forward to sharing some commentary on Marsden’s descriptions of types of parenting, I’m not sure how I will be categorised, more on that next week!

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