What We Can Learn from Watching the Birds


The beginning of the school year is always exciting and a little terrifying all at the same time. This is especially true for freshman. Everyone has advice for them and they have many caring adults and friends helping them with their transition. This advice is for the parents. I hope this advice will help you and your daughter truly enjoy your high school experience.

I live in the foothills of Pasadena where we have an abundance of doves. The doves will often make a nest in the overhang of our porch. I love to watch them as they take their young from birth to sending them on their way to make their own lives. Watching the birds has provided me with a perfect metaphor for our parents.

Baby Bird Learning to Fly

We can learn a lot from birds. When birds lay their eggs they protect them and keep them warm until they hatch. Once they hatch all the little chicks scream and cry for food until mommy feeds them and then they rest. Soon they start to venture to the sides of the nest and as they grow more feathers, they begin to flap their wings.  Mom and dad watch them and when the chicks are ready they take them down to ground to let them practice flying. This is the stage your daughters are at. You are not ready to kick them out of the nest, but you are allowing them to practice flying. The birds watch their off-spring try, and struggle, and try again. If the fledglings decide to give up and just sit down, mom or dad gently nudge them to get up and do it again. Often, more times than not, they will fall on their cute little beaks or take a nosedive into some very hard dirt, but then they get up, shake their feathers and try again. Each time mom and dad are a little less involved until one day the little bird actually flies. Not very far, but it is a start.

This analogy is to remind you that high school is time to allow your daughter to try, to experiment, to fall, and sometimes, to fail – but knowing that you are there supporting her. She will grow into an empowered young woman and eventually become exactly the person she wants to be. Please know that you are not alone. We, too, are teaching her to fly and making sure that she is safe while she is here. We will allow her to spread her wings and make mistakes and learn from those mistakes when needed. She will learn to be in charge of her own learning and will only need you watching from afar until that day when you can see her soar not from the ground, but from the proverbial nest – or in our case – our terrace on graduation day.

Each year will come with its own challenges. We will give her the tools to deal with those challenges. So, the best advice I can give you is to allow her to find herself, to be responsible for her own learning, and to let her learn from the consequences of her choices whether those are positive or negative in a safe and loving environment of your home and Alverno. If you do, when you send her off to college, you know she will be ready. Welcome to high school – welcome to Alverno Heights Academy!

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