The Role of Parents in the Success of their Children
Research shows that parents who take a keen interest in their children’s education are more likely to create successful adults.
A child’s first learning institution is his or her home. Children learn the most from their parents and the environment in which they are raised. Needless to say, parents play a vital role in the education of their children. So how much parent involvement is needed? According to Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar Academic Counselor and former Awsaj Academy counselor, Steve Stay, “Whatever it takes to mold them into successful, productive individuals.”
“Students cannot achieve their full potential unless their parents are actively involved in their education. Research has proven over and over again that positive parental involvement increases student achievement, reduces bad behavior, improves attendance, and increases student satisfaction at school. Conversely, students whose parents are not involved in their education generally earn worse grades, get into more trouble at school, and feel less happy there,” he says.
Dr Taj Kardaman, Career Counseling Consultant at Qatar Career Development Center (QCDC) backs this theory, saying “Parental involvement from an early age has a significant effect on educational achievement and continues to do so into adolescence and adulthood. So, parents have a vital role to play in grooming successful and productive future generations,” he says.
Father of four, Rashid Abdallah Al Ubayd is one such parent who realized very early on that being closely involved in the education of his children was imperative to their success.
“I believe in the significance of participating in the education of all my children. I attend all parents’ meetings and school activities whenever the school invites me. My wife also shares the responsibility of guiding and advising our children. She helps them with their assignments and revises their homework daily,” he says.
Al Ubayd’s daughter is currently pursuing her degree in Business Administration, and his eldest son is finishing his studies in Australia in Computer Science. His second son is a graduate of Ahmed bin Mohammed Military College, while his third son is a preparatory school student. According to Al Ubayd, all of them have clear directions on what careers they want to pursue, which he believes is a result of his deep involvement in their education.
“I developed the habit of sitting with them and listening to them and following up closely with their education and activities in school, by working closely with their teachers,” says Al Ubayd.
“I have also always instilled in them the importance of an education from an early age – that it will help them with self-development and independence, that it increases knowledge and culture awareness, in addition to expanding their horizons and helping them attain job opportunities in the future,” he adds.
Al Ubayd’s parenting style is one that encourages his children to make informed choices, by maintaining an open and honest communication line. “There needs to be a balance between being supportive and authoritative,” he says.
“The method I use with my children is that of dialogue and persuasion. I am moderate in dealing and communicating with my children, and I guide them by means of advice. Yet sometimes I take a firm stand and become strict, especially in matters related to the traditions of our conservative community in the Gulf,” he continues.
Al Ubayd and his wife also act as career coaches for their children, realizing that, in addition to teachers and counselors, parents are important influencers with the ability and responsibility of guiding their children on the right path. So, where do parents start in terms of being coaches?
“By keeping a close watch on their studies. This way, I know what their interests are, what they love, and the subjects in which they gain the highest marks. This enables me to advise them accordingly. Having said that, the choice remains theirs. I have never forced them into any particular specialization or field,” he says.
According to Dr Taj, many parents face the challenge of changing times, and, as a result, are stuck in traditional ways of looking at career options for their children.
“Many parents push their children into traditional professions that they believe are secure, such as doctors, lawyers, and accountants. However, there are many more new professions and university degree courses that are offered these days. An app developer or a sustainability expert are professions that were unheard off ten years ago.
“Parenting styles need to evolve with time. Parents need to learn about the labor market and the education system in Qatar, in order to guide their children accordingly. Education systems are not the same as they used to be, and there are various other professions that are in demand these days.
“Parents should attend career fairs, speak to teachers and counselors, and read up on the latest news from the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs. To develop coaching skills, consider taking a formal course. This will enable parents to guide their children accordingly,” Dr. Taj recommends.
With these skills and insights, Dr Taj says that parents will then be equipped to:
- Help their children discover their skills, abilities, and interests, while learning about their strengths and weaknesses
- Help their children consider career or educational options instead of pushing them into pursuing what is socially acceptable or economically rewarding
- Guide them (instead of deciding for them) into making good decisions concerning employability, career advancements etc.
- Continue encouraging their children to achieve what they have decided on by providing continuous support and resources
“Additionally, parents need to be more interactive and reflective, have the necessary listening skills to encourage and support their children instead of being domineering, and to advise instead of deciding for their children. Everything lies in the hands of the parents,” he says.
Route to Success
The responsibility of raising high-achievers may seem like a daunting task. Although every child is different, Steve Stay says that with some guidance, parents are able to bring out the best in their children. He offers the following advice:
- Make sure your child gets enough sleep each day. Most students require nine or 10 hours of sleep to function at peak ability
- Make sure they eat something healthy before going to school. The human brain needs food to function
- Know the school’s rules and help your child to follow them
- Prove to your child that their education is important to you by checking on their grades, attendance, and behavior each day
- Know exactly what work your student is expected to complete each week for school by working closely with your child’s teacher
- Expect them to spend time reading each day, and set a good example by reading each day where they can see you
- Set and maintain firm expectations for your child’s effort. Remove privileges if need be and give them a clear goal to achieve before restoring their privilege. Likewise, remember to reward your child for sincere effort
Parents should avoid:
- Abusing their children physically or emotionally in an effort to get them to work harder or behave better at school
- Using wasta, bribery, or threats to influence school employees
- Letting students do whatever they want. Every child needs clear, firm, and consistent boundaries that can be gradually loosened as the child demonstrates maturity and self-discipline
- Eliminating their child’s social life completely in order to focus entirely on schoolwork. Children without healthy and frequent opportunities for social interaction are at a higher risk of mental illness and self-harm
- Moving children from school to school frequently
- Insisting on perfect grades or test scores