After teaching college students for thirteen years, I’ve finally reflected on some useful parenting tips I have learned through them. My son’s still in his young years and having experience with these young adults have taught me a lot about raising my own child. From them I learned these things:
They have their own dreams and aspirations.
I’ve had a lot of students who are not so happy with the courses that they were in. This is common for students whose parents are the ones who chose their courses for them. Aside from that, there are also students who don’t really know why they took their course, and realize in the middle of it that they wanted another course instead. On the other hand, I also got the chance to know students who really are passionate about the courses that they took. They knew themselves very much which led them to enjoy their courses eventually becoming passionate about it.
Whenever I get the chance to converse with them, I realize that young adults have their own goals. They know what they want, and they can direct their actions towards it. There might be moments when it seems they are just goofing around but once they do want they really want. THEY. DO.IT. and they do it excellently.
Through it, I learned to always ask what my son aspires for. As a parent, I want something for him, I have dreams for him but I have to keep in mind that he is his own person. Being his own means having to decide what he wants and aspires for. As a parent, I can only support him in his interests and be there for him through his ups and downs.
Listening intentionally is important.
From the many conversations I had with some of my students, I realized how important being present in conversations. There were times when my students would talk to me when they see me hanging out alone on the campus. We would talk about basic stuff from schoolwork, funny things they watch or see in social media, to things that truly matter to them for example relationships, future, and sometimes even their mistakes. Whenever we talk about these things, I would always think about Enzo in the future. Would he experience those things too? And the most important question I ask myself is, Will he talk to me about these things like how my students talk to me?
Admittedly, sometimes, as a parent, I get caught up with all the household chores and work that I don’t become present in the moment. There are times that I just say “yes” or nod when my Enzo talks to me just to get over and done with the conversation. Then I remember the moments I have with my students I want to be that person to my own son. The one who he goes to, to talk about the most mundane to the most complicated things he is experiencing.
Tough Love is a must.
Setting a high standard for my students is a must for me. I try to challenge them (hopefully) with the topics and activities we do in class. This way I feel they see their potentials and act on that potential. In order to do so, tough love is needed. I sometimes tell my students things about them that are hard to accept. I tell them when they act disrespectful or inappropriate. If there is someone, who would point out their wrongdoings, I would be that person. Love is not all about patronizing our students or our children. We are also there to tell them what is wrong and is especially if they are wrong. Sometimes, it hurts me most when I need to correct students who are close to me. But whenever it happens, I must do it. This is also what I try to do with my son. I’d rather be the one who will tell him what he has done even if it’s wrong than other people. They say people who correct you cares for you. Having a child this young, tough love is a necessity. This is so when he grows up he knows that he makes mistakes and its okay because I would still love him.
Storytelling is the best way to be heard.
In class, I’d say one of my assets is my stories. Stories I read from books, movies I watch, personal experiences, and other people’s experiences. It is my way of getting my concepts across and most of the time they get it through stories. So this is something I also do with my son, we tell stories of classic stories, of our childhood, and what happens in the world. If you have a story to tell, you have a message to share. Stories make people listen so make sure we tell the stories with the messages we want them to get.
They know a lot.
Admittedly, I learn a lot from my students. I enjoy talking to them whether in class or just chitchats. I get new ideas and information through them. From what they share with me, I get to have new topics to discuss in my classes, movies for film showing, trivial stuff I need to be “in” and understand them, and I get to know them more. Whenever they share with me, I realize that the generation gap is real. Although it is true, I still realize that it is not an excuse not to listen to them. Because it is true, we should, even more, listen to them when they share. To understand their generation, we must get to know what they know. Through this, we get a picture of how it is to be them and learn the ways on how to support them.
Parenting teenagers is different from parenting school-aged children. Therefore, I appreciate that I was a teacher of teenagers and young adults. It gave me a glimpse of what to expect when my son is in their age. It gave a practice shot as to what I should and should not do. Of course, it’ll be a different story but at least I have these pointers to go back to. I am blessed to be learning from my students. I am not just a better teacher, but a better parent because of them.