Two kids are more than one, and one parent is less than two…how’s that for deep and prophetic thoughts? KIPP has tried to be empathetic since the beginning about how hard it is for a single parent to raise his/her child(ren), especially when that parent is a working parent…and especially when there are no other family members in the same city, state, or even country to help. This is why from the beginning at KIPP we visited the homes of our students and parents, why we gave them our phone numbers, and why we spoke about –and lived –our role as partners with parents in educating their children. We were right to view the single parent’s job as extra challenging, but understanding and living this reality are two different things.
As I came up for air with my wife Colleen’s triumphant return after 4 days on the road (the kids were very happy to see her), my respect, appreciation, and admiration for our single parents increased even more. As I fed Abadit while looking through Gus’s folder and asking him how his day was in school, I found myself thinking that teaching 70 kids “Thinking Skills” in a classroom was easier. I still want our parents to sign homework tickets and check agendas every night, but I understand a little bit better how that fits in with everything else they are juggling.
We have been talking a lot at the leadership level about the importance of empathy. For those of us who believe we have it, that’s great, but keep in mind your empathy, like other skills and knowledge, can still grow. I hope we will continue to exercise our empathetic perspectives with our children, our parents, and with each other.