Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Accountability Project

I remember this time last year, sitting in the middle-school auditorium and listening to the PTO President give words of advice to parents as part of orientation: Make sure you get to know your kids' friends AND the parents of your kids' friends. Mixed in with other advice (more like warnings) I was a bit terrified of what I might expect in our freshman year at Middle school.

"We were also told in many different ways that this will be a challenging year ( I believe the term "wild ride" was used once or twice!). The PTO lady also stressed the importance of making sure you were involved in your child's life. Also to get to know all their friends. And the parents of their friends. This was the most important mission of the PTO.

WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO! What kind of "Wild Ride" lies ahead????"

Fortunately, last year was a pretty smooth ride. This year looks to be a bit bumpier. Not so much at school but more so in our neighborhood. Between a few new faces in the 'hood and the boundaries of nearby playmates expanding, there are lots more boys, pick-up games of ball and noise filling our street. With all this additional testosterone also more skirmishes and incidents of bullying.

The Turning Point

This summer, after a fight broke out in the middle of a "friendly" game of Kick-Ball, the mom of the house took action. She escorted the fight-starter home and told his mother what had happened that day. As well as some other incidents she had heard about but not witnessed.

The mother of the "fight-starter" took disciplinary action. Once the flow of information started, an amazing improvement in behavior was made.

Making Policy

That day, a new policy was started. From now on, if there was an "incident of bad behavior", the rest of the children were responsible for telling a parent and the offending child (children) would be escorted home. There would also be a ban of a week until the child(children) would be allowed back. Any child that does not report, or takes matters into their own hands, will also be punished. Game over.

Meeting of the Moms

As new boys have entered the circle, the process continues. We are continuing to meet new mothers, step-mothers, grandmothers & aunts and exchanging phone numbers. The process works both ways: we also get reports on our children. While it won't completely put a stop to fights and bullying, I have noticed a remarkable improvement.

At first I was a bit apprehensive about meeting parents of the "problem children" but have been pleasantly surprised. We all share similar goals and none of our children are perfect. I love the fact that if there is a problem, I know who to talk to and conversely as well. It really does take a village to raise a child.

I am also finding that our children make better choices when they know they are being watched. And held accountable!

Dateline: Monday.... found a great article related to this topic:


WeaselMomma said...

Communication among parents os always key.

terri said...

What a great system! I'm impressed that all the adults in the neighborhood are mature enough to get on board with this plan. It obviously benefits all involved.

Cheffie-Mom said...

This is awesome!! And so close to my heart this week. Thank you for the kind comment on my blog post. Parenting is so important. Us coming together will make such a huge difference. Hugs!!

Tara R. said...

I really like this accountability policy. I like to think that most parents when informed of bad behavior of their child(ren), they will take appropriate action. This is also teaching the kids a valuable lesson too.

Stacey said...

What an excellent idea! I've had to deal with too many parents that said, "Not MY kid!" It's so nice to see that the adults in your neighborhood are willing to ACT like adults! :-)

seashore subjects said...

When we were concerned about a friend of my daughter's I was so nervous, but once I opened the communication lines - things were much better. It has been a great thing.

OhCaptain said...

That's awesome to hear. We have a mixture of parents here. Some are involved just like your post, unfortunately we also have some of the "not my kid" or "kid will be kids" folk. We've had some meetings with the parents and for the most part, we've developed a comfortable set of shared rules.

Keep up the awesome work!