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My School of Thought

We have a fish tank at home and it's a community tank filled with guppies and tetras. It's a pretty happy tank and overall, all the fish get along except that whenever our mama guppy gives birth, the little fish don't survive as they get eaten by the tetras. We rarely see any of the baby guppies...we just know that they existed at some point because we'll see a very pregnant fish and then the next day, we'll see the fish deflate back to her pre-pregnancy stage but with no additional fish swimming around. Sometimes we'll see a rare baby guppy or two, but their time is limited; we'll go back in a few hours and they're gone.

One time, we were lucky to witness mama guppy give birth to 6 guppies-they were so tiny and cute- and my husband decided to rescue them by scooping them out of the tank and putting them into a fishbowl.

These handful of fish evaded death because our timing was a fluke. We saw them at just the right time. My husband meticulously fed them and changed the water and made sure that they survived. A couple of weeks later, they were big enough and ready to go back into the tank. Though seemingly content, they wouldn't be able to survive had we kept them in the oxygen deprived fish bowl. The fish seemed hesitant at first and stayed away from the other fish, but after an hour or so, they joined the other school of fish and now we have many happy fish in the tank.

I look at this as an analogy of how we take care of our children. There are two schools of thought with this. We have parents who want to shelter their children and make sure that they don't fail. There are others who are a little more old-school and give their children "tough love" to learn the hard way. I think that, as parents, we need to consider both. These baby guppies would never have survived if my hero husband didn't save them. Taking the fish aside and providing the fish with a bit of extra attention made them strong and ready to join the other schools of fish back in the tank. Our children do need a bit of guidance -from parents, from teachers, from coaches - to prepare themselves for independence. It is also important to step back and let our children learn responsibility and build resilience, but they can only do that successfully once we provide them with the necessary skills to do so.

Like the fish, students need the initial guidance and time to strengthen their abilities so that they can do well in school. This can be in the form of extra tutoring or added advice and coaching from parents, teachers, and other experts. Getting help and support provides students with the confidence and mindset that will help them succeed. Like the fish in my tank, students will become much happier and more confident when guidance is given.

Acknowledging what kind of parent you are will help you shift towards that perfect balance. If you know that your child is struggling and not gaining confidence in something, motivate them and provide them with the skills and strategies to help them face the situation. And if you tend to do everything for your child, learn to step back a little and see what they do. You'll be surprised at what they can do on their own.

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