by Emily Rendall-Araujo
This past week has been quite interesting in my house. While my sister and brother-in-law were in the process of selling their former house and transitioning to a new house, they stayed at Hotel Rendall-Araujo for a few days. With them, of course, came my two nieces who are ages seven and three.
I could confidently say that my husband and I make a good aunt and uncle. We are the godparents to both girls and have been very active in their upbringing. In fact, my older niece has been my regular date at the Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra for the past two years.
Now after this brief experiment of living with two children and observing the family dynamics of raising children, I can confidently say that I don’t know the first thing about parenting. I had no idea the struggles of negotiating breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks, nor the delicate art of convincing children that it is time for bed. And I can’t imagine what it must be like for new parents trying to console a crying baby.
My husband and I both have master’s degree, we both work in professional careers, and we are involved in various community organizations. But other than the one child development class I took as an undergraduate eight years ago, we wouldn’t have a clue how to care for a child, much less raise a child to be a successful contributor to society.
New parents, whether at-risk or not, cannot be expected to know everything. Babies are not like cars-they don’t come with an owner’s manual specified to each particular model. Parents could spend months, possibly nine, reading all sorts of parenting books and still not know how to care for their child.
This is why early education programs, from birth to age four, are so important. Qualified home educators, holding bachelor’s degrees at a minimum, come into the home regularly to work with parents and children in their normal setting. With these programs, parents are not only taught how to deal with a crying baby, but how to act as their child’s first teacher, promoting the idea that our children start preparing for their careers the minute they enter this world.
As you might have read in these columns over the past few months, United Way is heading in a new direction with impact initiatives in mind, specifically school readiness. By allowing more parents and children to participate in school readiness programs, we can make Sheboygan County a better place to live, work, and play from the bottom up.