Why is it that parents don’t share with other parents their child’s activities?
Parents of school going children often complain that parents of other children do not share with them their child’s classes or activities and are not open about divulging the opportunities that their child may be availing off. Not shared overtly is the preparation that the child is making in terms of taking advantage of the opportunity and, the actual opportunities available. Information is shared only after their child has attained success, has concluded or been admitted into a particular position or program.
In the elementary schools, the public school system propagates the belief that the “stars” in the class should not be called out, probably so that other children who are not in that league do not come under pressure. Thus parents are not informed about the gifted programs and opportunities available to high achievers. Only when the child demonstrates a certain degree of excellence are they informed of these opportunities. Where this approach misses the point is that most human beings are inherently lazy and tend to work harder only when there is a goal in sight. If a parent or a child knows that there is a reward at the end of the line in the form of an accelerated class or a recognition or such, more children and parents will be motivated to work towards it, resulting in more students striving towards excellence.
With this dearth of information about how to provide the best opportunities for their children, parents end up turning to each other for guidance. This is where a parent who spends more time researching and finding classes for their child gets into the mode of not sharing. While some parents maintain the equitable balance of sharing, there are many more who are adept at taking in information without reciprocating. Ironically, parents who complain the most are the ones who hide the information the most. Even as they do so, they feel entitled since they believe that they are only doing what others are doing. There is no dearth of classes on any subject imaginable and weeding out the fluff from the real stuff takes a sizable amount of time, effort and money. These parents are making time to call and inquire about various classes, driving their children to and trying out these classes, working around their schedules and making daily sacrifices to find an activity that is best suited for their children. These parents believe that they are justified in refusing to disperse freely the information they have gathered through their hard work and dedication, to others who only want to pull it out of others without doing any legwork themselves.
Then there is the age-old superstition of some people casting an “evil eye”. Some parents may not share the information because they believe that doing so may elicit jealousy and envy from parents who may not have resources available to provide the same for their children or whose children for whatever reason are not able to compete at the same level. To avoid these negative feelings, these parents find it prudent to keep mum.
Not to be left behind is the grand old reason of competition. Unless there is a big gap in age and grade level, parents believe that all children are in competition with each other and no one can predict when one child can overtake the other (with some extra tutoring and instructional guidance). Never to underestimate the power of competition, parents find it safer not to share their children’s activities.
So while it is true that some parents shy away from being forthcoming about their children’s activities, it is also true that they are always happy to find other children in those activities. This is because they realize that with a friend, their child will enjoy the activity more and be more committed to it. As an old African proverb says “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”