The Sandusky Verdict: What’s The Biggest Take-Home Message For Parents?
By now you have heard that Jerry Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child abuse and child endangerment. Last November, I wrote about my feelings as a professional, a parent, and a Penn State grad. Since then, not much has changed for me. That said, I think the trial and conviction certainly reinforces a principle I believe we all have to adhere to these days:
Cultivating Informed Trust
I don’t want to be a distrustful parent and harbor suspicions about all the adults entrusted with caring for my child (teachers, coaches, etc). I don’t want to be a helicopter parent and micro manage the time my child spends away from me. But I do think we all have a very real obligation to be involved and informed. We need to establish a respectful dialogue with the adults in our child’s life. We need to let them know that we will want to be informed and keep an eye on our kid. We want them to know that we will, now and then, want to observe what they are doing and how they do it. We also want them to know that we don’t want to indulge our kids, but in the end, we want to make sure that the adults they are around treat them fairly and with respect.
We also want our kids to know that we want to hear about their lives. Although we want them to treat adults with respect and follow rules, we want them to know that they should never do something that seems uncomfortable. In fact, they should never feel uncomfortable, uneasy, coerced or threatened. And they should not only know that they can talk to us – we should openly talk to them and stay informed about their feelings and their experiences. An open line of communication with kids is one of the most powerful ways to help protect them because we can get warning signals of something (or someone) gone awry.
There are lots of other good tips to consider – you can read some here. But for me the overarching idea is informed trust – we have to stay involved and informed with the adults in our kids’ lives, as well as with our kids. That way we can strike a balance and let our kids experience the world as safely as possible – and know that they always can (and should) rely on their parents to support and protect them.