Parenting by degree

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The Andrews Sisters, the Supremes, Destiny’s Child, Bananarama all have something in common with the Three Degrees — they all have (or had) three female singers and were highly successful, in varying degrees. Each of them seemed to reflect the fact that they each had three singers, each with a different but truly harmonising sound. In the case of many of these groups, individual members stepped away from the group (while the group continued) when they became parents, leaving their fans to echo the words of one of the Three Degrees’ songs: “When will I see you again? When will we share precious moments? Will I have to wait forever? … When will I see you again? When will our hearts beat together? Is this my beginning or is this the end?”

It is perhaps a similar thought that goes through the minds of people when they become parents, in thinking of the “good times” — when will we see them again? (In truth, the good times lie ahead!)

We have stated previously that we do not need any qualification to be a parent, or any training (barring a basic knowledge of practical Biology). We are not invited to an interview and asked: “So, tell us, why do you want to be a parent?” No-one says: “Right, we like what we see and we would like to make you a parent.” It is the hardest job in the world to be a parent yet we need no qualification to be one. However, if we did need a qualification to be a parent, what qualification would that be? Universities do not offer a Bachelor’s degree in Parenting, probably as a bachelor would not normally be a parent! Is there a Parent Degree…?

It has been said (by William Ross Wallace) that motherhood “takes the wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, the faith of Abraham, the strength of Samson, the insight of Daniel and the courage of David!” Perhaps that may be our starting point but not just for mothers, please note. We as parents firstly need the wisdom of Solomon. We would be wise to understand that wisdom does not mean knowing right from wrong (that is often common sense or conscience) but knowing right from right, for each child, in different situations, based on principles. Secondly, we as parents need the patience of Job, to handle the difficulties that will inevitably come in varying degrees and situations. The third qualification we need is the faith of Abraham; in our case it should refer to us having faith that good will come of our child even when we do not see any signs of it. Fourthly, we will need the strength of Samson, to cope with the 24-hour a day, seven day a week responsibility.

The fifth qualification was stated as the insight of Daniel but it might more accurately read the principles of Daniel. In the face of relentless pressure, Daniel did not waver in what he believed in; as parents we must live up to that standard. The final qualification was given as the courage of David but again it might be suggested that David be remembered more for his humility than his courage. He twice made seriously bad choices which had massive consequences on his family but he showed great humility in admitting those mistakes and in recognising the huge responsibility he had. We might also add that we need the love of God, an unconditional love.

We would do well, therefore, to develop such qualifications as parents. We would be wise to gain them in the same way that we go about gaining other qualifications, by reading, studying, attending workshops. A Bachelor’s degree can take a minimum of three years to attain; how much time are we giving to our Parent’s degree? What makes us think we can do the job with such limited training? The bottom line is that being a parent is not a job. It is a calling, a gift, a blessing. Be qualified for it! We may only learn it by degree, one small development at a time.

We do not need three degrees to be a parent but we may wonder when we may see our children again if we do not get our parenting right; however, the extent of our parenting needs to be 360 degrees, not three. Someone with third degree burns rarely survives, so we must ensure we do not burn ourselves through careless parenting; third degree murder is not pre-meditated but does cause bodily harm, something we cannot afford to do as a parent. Fail in all of this and we may face the third degree — intense questioning to illicit a confession. Parents need a degree — agree?

  • Tim Middleton is the executive director of the Association of Trust Schools [ATS]. The views expressed in this article, however, are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of the ATS. 
  • email: [email protected]
  • website: www.atschisz

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