Family: The Student
by John Bunyi
We look at the role families play in the modern student’s life.
By BrightBrain Staff
The people we consider “family” play a huge role in our lives, and how we have come to be in the world. If we play the role of “family” in someone else’s life, we can influence their decisions whether we mean to or not. In this ongoing piece, we take several perspectives on the importance of appropriate involvement in the lives of those we care about.
“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.”
–Michael J. Fox
I recently decided to pursue my Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, or MFT, as it is commonly known. After working with families and their children for the past few years, and in their homes for the past few months, I’ve seen just how a family can affect a child’s life and how they approach the world. A lot of the children I work with have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or some other learning or social disorder. I want to talk about the positive I’ve seen from certain families, and the hope that it has led to.
The more involvement I see from parents and caretakers in a student’s life, the higher the chance of a positive outcome. It may sound like common sense, but surprisingly it’s less commonly practiced. I hold a firm belief that without an invested family, rarely do we see true improvement in a child’s life. A therapist or tutor can only help with so much, as far as educating the child.
It’s up to the family and those who are regularly around the child to provide follow-up and continue the instruction and continue building on the foundation we as tutors have provided. I’ve seen several families where both parents not only work with the child but work with the therapist or tutor in implementing a program for the child, and it’s these families I enjoy working with the most. They are also the families that see the most improvement in their child. Not only do these parents ask questions and ask for an explanation for what I am working on with their child, but they also ask to join in with session.
Whether it is helping their child find strategies to solve difficult math problems, taking part in an activity to help practice conversation skills, or even starting an impromptu “jam session” playing Boston songs with their child, parents can do plenty to get involved; finding a tutor is only the first step.
Now, I have also seen parents who are involved but don’t necessarily take a positive approach to the situation. Here is where appropriate comes into play. Parents must not only be willing to be involved, but must also remember to encourage their child and foster positivity. It is very difficult to watch a child become discouraged and lose hope in their abilities because of a lack of encouragement and support from those they respect the most. It’s so easy for us to notice when a child isn’t performing to our expectations and point it out to them. While it is OK to point out faults and things to work on, it’s also important to notice and praise what the child has done well.
As a therapist and tutor, I can say that one of the hardest things to do is to go into someone’s house and take over mentoring their child, and in certain cases their family. It’s the greatest thing as a therapist and a tutor to walk into a house where the parents have a passion and willingness to learn how they can help their child to succeed.
About John Bunyi