BrothersI hear often enough how difficult it is to raise your own biological children, how to talk to them not as a friend but as a parent, how to be appropriate and loving but also set expectations and create growth. Recently I have been asked by a number of people how to “parent” or teach as a stepparent, foster parent, auntie, uncle or community member. How does one parent or mindfully educate about soft skills when he or she is not a biological parent.

The often-heard refrain “it takes a village” is terrific, but how can you create a meaningful bond with a child that you care about but isn’t your biological child? As the statistics about community make-up confirm that more and more kids are growing up being fostered and with more non-traditional families, it is time to begin the discussion about how parenting can occur outside of the nuclear family.

Being a parent without the biology is a tricky role that we hope to explore in greater depth this week while still being cognizant of the importance of nature and nurture in growing a thoughtful adult.

For now, we leave you with a question — As a parent, what kind of parenting role (if any) do you feel comfortable with trusted adults taking? For stepparents, foster parents and other trusted adults, what kind of role do you want in teaching students — do you want to fill in the gaps or do you have a specific role you would like to play?

As we explore this let us be ever-mindful of perhaps my favorite quote about education, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Frederick Douglass


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