Additional student reengagement articles:
A Parent’s Reflection
By Ruthie Muller, Senior Outbound Marketing Manager and Systems Portfolio Manager
Millions of working parents were faced with
a struggle like never before in March of 2020.
Some of the words I’ve used and have heard
used by others to describe this struggle include
overwhelming, stressful, impossible, and exhausting.
Working from home plus schooling from home,
or not being able to work from home but having
to figure out supervision for children to complete
their schoolwork, added stress and anxiety to an
already stressful and unfamiliar time. If you’re a
parent, I need to say no more.
A recent Hechinger Report called Parents
Fighting, Teachers Crying: Grownup Stress Is
Hitting Kids Hard by Kavitha Cardoza tells
stories of the impact the stress of COVID has
caused. The report tells several stories and
points out the acknowledgement from the
American Psychological Association that
the negative mental health effects of the
coronavirus will be “serious and long lasting.”
These stories are real. The stress is real.
There are lots of statistics and articles out
there that tell of the negative effects of the
pandemic. After all, most of the information
we have been given about the pandemic
has come directly through the media.
And negative news gets ratings. The
problem I’ve experienced with getting
information through these channels
is that it shifts my focus from my
immediate sphere of influence to a
much larger scope that feels too big and
too scary to make an impact.
Amid this uncertainty, my husband
and I zeroed in on what we could impact
– our kids. We made the decision to keep
our attitudes positive and not allow the
negative and sometimes scary news all
around us take away a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity to experience our time
together as a family. We cracked open
our parenting tool kits and embraced
the situation we were given.
In my tool kit, I had Brené Brown’s
“Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto”
(download here) and her 10 guideposts
- Cultivate worthiness in your family.
- Be vulnerable with your children.
- Embrace imperfection. (Focus on
healthy striving, not perfectionism.)
- Allow your children to struggle.
(Tenacity and perseverance
through struggle contribute to
- Model gratefulness and joy.
- Set and maintain boundaries.
- Be creative. (There are people who
use their creativity and people who
don’t, but there is no such thing as
- Play as a family.
- Value respect and hard work.
- Being cool kills learning.
Some of these were much easier
than others. Number 4, piece of cake.
Number 5, however, was challenging in
such an uncertain time. I had Number 10
perfected before I ever became a parent.
And, Numbers 7 and 8 were probably
our favorites. Board games, puzzles, and
living room karaoke occurred regularly.
We even built a geometric dome out
of cardboard that eventually became
a silent reading spot and then a time
machine (in our imaginations, of course).
In my husband’s tool kit, he had lots
of podcasts and books – The Art of
Manliness, The Rooted Parent, He’s Not Lazy:
Empowering Your Son to Believe in Himself
to name just a few. He also had actual
tools and a woodshop. “Everyone out to
the shop,” he declared one afternoon.
“Today, we are making birdhouses.” The
first step was for all of us to declare out
loud (myself included), “My birdhouse
does not have to be perfect.”
With one girl (age 13) and two boys
(ages 10 and 8), we got to experience
firsthand how boys and girls learn
differently and need different learning
environments and strategies. We gained
a new appreciation for teachers and
differentiated instruction. From cooking
together, planting a garden together, and
building projects together, we discovered
how hands-on instruction works best.
As parents, George and I – and many
of you – used the skills and tools we had
at our disposal during this trying time.
Just as our children learn by utilizing
the skill sets, tool sets, and mindsets
acquired through school,
books, observations, and
the like, we also learn this
way as parents. Just as
our kids learn through
failure, we learn this way
as well. And, just like the
birdhouses, we certainly
Ultimately, we learned
there is great power in
positivity and the value of
time spent together as a
family. In modeling gratefulness and joy
and embracing the struggle, parenting
during the pandemic, though stressful at
times, has been a blessing.