A Conversation About Character

The importance of character, stories, positive risk-taking and resilience. These were just some of the topics discussed at our recent Parent Symposium, with experts Clark Wight and Dr Adrian Lopresti offering advice on how to futureproof your parent-child relationship.

There was a wonderful feeling of acceptance and community as I sat in the audience with more than 100 other parents from our school and the wider community recently, many sharing their experiences and asking for help with the trials and tribulations of parenthood.

It was obvious that no matter how old your children are, our job as parents always presents hurdles and crossroads on how to help our families to navigate the modern world.

I always find it important and interesting to hear the views of people who come from outside the immediate school community and it was heartening to hear that many of the tips explained by the experts aligned with the way we teach and relate to students and families at St Stephen’s School.

I have always been a big advocate of building character and resilience. In my opinion, these are two of the biggest traits that will set our children up for the future.

Mr Wight listed both of these as important teachings behind a strong parent-child relationship.

“Futureproofing is about consistently building upon opportunities for growth in our children and connections with us,” he said.

He suggested telling children stories, no matter what their age. They will remember lessons told through stories and experience more than a simple message of discipline.

Showing empathy and shared burdens will build a strong character that can recognise good and bad decisions when life presents a problem needing to be solved.

Embrace adventure and positive risk-taking. Assess the risk and weigh up the positive and negative results. Ask yourself what lessons could be learned if the worst were to happen and help children to learn from their mistakes.

Let them fail, and fail well. Strip back the bubble-wrap and teach them to bounce back naturally.

“The term resilience is known to have many meanings and if broadly understood as the ability to bounce back from adverse life effects,” Mr Wight said.

Dr Lopresti talked about self-care and respecting your needs to be a good parent.

“Self-care is not selfish, it is self-respect and this is a value easily passed on to children when modelled by parents,” he said.

During the Q&A at the end of the night, both experts said a holistic education was behind the success of our children and their relationships with people and the world.

They said offering our children a holistic, character-based education that focuses on more than just academic results would set them up for a brighter future. That is why I am so proud of our commitment to being a Christ-centred, student-focused and community-based school.

I’ll finish with this – the last point in Mr Wight’s presentation that provided the perfect summation.

“In order to truly futureproof our children, we need to do this together. Let today be the start of a conversation so that your sons and daughters raise a generation who do not need futureproofing because they deeply understand values, character, resiliency and themselves.”

Take care,

Mrs Donella Beare