|I work as an educational consultant specializing in family life and family-school relationships. For the past 25 years, I have written books for parents and have given conferences throughout the world. I've spoken to groups of parents and educators in nearly every major city in the United States and Canada as well as in England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, The Philippines, Trinidad, and other countries. Everywhere, I have found conscientious parents sharing the same concerns for their children's futures.
"I sure wish I had known all this 25 years ago!" That's what I've sometimes been told after my conferences on successful parent leadership. The words, said in humor but sometimes with wistful regret, came from older parents whose children had already grown and left home.
To come right to the point here, I have written my books on parent leadership, the fruit of my many years' experience with families, so that you, a young parent, won't have to express this same regret in the future. I've written them so that you can form a clearer idea of how other parents have lived as great leaders in family life and have succeeded with their sacred mission: to raise their children right. I want to help you form a "job description," so to speak, on how to succeed as a leader to your children.
Countless people, I'm pleased to say, have gratefully told me how my experienced advice led them to be more confident and effective in family life.
Prompted by this support from so many people, I've set up this Website as an informational service and a source of encouragement to parents--men and women who want to become more confident family leaders, more effective in carrying out their great responsibility as fathers and mothers.
I have also included notes of experience for teachers, many of whom are parents themselves, and whose professional dedication benefits so many families.
I'm pleased to say that tens of thousands of people access this Website each year, and they download countless folios on various family topics.
Before getting into the details of the Website and how to use it, let me explain my personal background.
I am an educator. For 21 years, I worked to help establish two independent secondary schools for boys, one in Washington, DC and the other in Chicago--namely, The Heights School and Northridge Preparatory School, respectively. At Northridge, I served as headmaster for almost a dozen years. By any measure, I'm pleased to say, both of these schools have been successful. That is, by collaborating with parents, they've turned out many excellent young adults who bring honor to their families through their strong character and right living.
During that time, I made it my business to know hundreds of families intimately, and I studied their family lives up close. I watched children grow into maturity, very often successfully but sometimes not. Over many years I talked with hundreds of fathers and mothers, visited their homes, asked questions, learned a lot.
All this I did for one reason: I wanted to learn how parents succeed or fail with their children.
Let me be clear here. When I say "succeed or fail," I don't mean parents' methods of discipline, or how they keep kids under control, or how they handle hassles in family life. These are short-term achievements but only part of the picture.
Parents really win success with their children only in the long term. Parents succeed with their children when the youngsters grow up to become competent, responsible, considerate, and generous men and women who are committed to live by principles of integrity--adults who bring honor to their parents all their lives through their conduct, conscience, and character. Raising children to become adults like this is what parenthood is all about.
I watched many parents succeed this way, while others failed--and their children eventually left our schools. Some parents saw their children mature into excellent men and women, often before they left high school. Others--especially as their children struggled through adolescence and young adulthood--met with disappointment, regret, and even tragedy. Their young people suffered from lack of self-confidence and self-control, substance abuse, protracted immaturity, irresponsible and self-destructive behavior, aimlessness in life, troubles with careers or marriages or the law.
Through my countless conversations with fathers and mothers, I tried to account for the differences. I looked for patterns of family life among those people who eventually triumphed with their children. What did these successful fathers and mothers have in common? What was their compass? What did they manage to do right? And most importantly, what could parents and teachers learn from their experience?
Starting in 1989, I began writing what I had learned and giving lectures to parents and educators throughout the world.
What follows below in this Web page are several "folios," just a few pages long, on different aspects of parent leadership. Each folio is an edited excerpt from my books--especially my new works, Compass: A Handbook on Parent Leadership and Father, the Family Protector--or summaries of my lectures to parents and educators.
I offer these folios to help you learn from the experience of others and to think deeply about your job as a parent. In my experience, busy parents today need to think carefully about what they're doing to raise their children well, that is, to become men and women of conscience and character. After all, parents have one chance--and only one--to raise their children right.
What's more, each folio here can be used by groups of parents who learn from each other and support each other through discussion groups with friends. This is a growing movement in the United States: friends from neighborhoods or churches joining together to think about their most important common concern, the later success of their children as grown men and women, adults who bring honor to their families, and how to bring this about. All of this is explained below.
It's important for you to understand something at the outset: What I lay out for you in these folios is descriptive, not prescriptive. That is, I don't claim to have all the answers about family life, and I don't know anyone who does. What I'm doing here is describing the kind of thinking and action--the compass of parenthood--that great parents have lived by and taught me in the course of my professional career. Take it or leave it, some or all of it, as you see fit.
A couple of final points.
First, if you wish to read my most recent books, they are:
Compass: A Handbook on Parent Leadership
Lifeline: The Religious Upbringing of Your Children
Father, the Family Protector
These and other works of mine are available from booksellers such as Amazon.com and my publisher
Secondly, please feel free to copy or e-mail the folios in this Web page, as do thousands of parents and teachers each year. The service is without charge. I ask only that you also include the attribution statement at the bottom of each folio: "Permission is hereby granted to reproduce this material for non-commercial use. It is taken from the Web page of James B. Stenson, educational consultant."
To learn about my upcoming books on family life, please consult this Website. Also please return to it frequently for more folios that will be added from time to time. And tell your friends about it. They will probably thank you.
May God bless you and your family with every success.
This Website is made possible by support from
The R. Templeton Smith Foundation,
Cleveland Heights, OH.
Photo credit: John Corkery
Website design: Ben Kniaz