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"It was a life-threatening problem"

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Erica Fernandez

on 5 February 2017

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Transcript of "It was a life-threatening problem"

“It was a life-threatening problem”:

Critical moments experienced by parents and (re)framing parental engagement

Erica Fernández, Ph.D.
Michele Femc-Bagwell, Ph.D.

University of Connecticut

“I hold [my children] accountable for their projects and things. All they need to do is do the research. That’s your part, do the research, protect your pictures, and I’ll help put it together.” - Jasmine
“I like to make sure they eat...That’s one of the most important things to me. I have to make sure she eats.
I make sure that she and Daniel [his eight year old son] eat.” - Ricardo
Critical Moments
I was living in New York. Then I left because there were problems out there. It was a life-threatening problem.

So I left and I came [here] to get away from all the violence and to get away from that type of environment that I was living because I didn't want the kids to grow up in that type of environment" - Ricardo
Like Ricardo, Flor’s identity as a parent was also tied with movement across borders – in her case it involved crossing the U.S./Mexico border “
sin papeles
/without proper documentation.”
Both Flor and Ricardo prefaced their understanding of parental engagement by describing critical moments in their lives that (re)framed parental engagement beyond the four walls of the school and in the process also permitted them to transmit resistance capital to their children.
I love to live life. I live it every day. I wake up. I wake up with a smile. I have a smile all day at work.

Beacause I mean, people stress about financial things, I look at things that I actually have. I have two loving kids. They're wonderful. We joke around. We play together.
I try to show them my world through my eyes. I want them to see what I've seen like the way the wind blows at trees. You watch the leaves shake.
That's life. That's literally life. It's all around us. I mean, I look up at a cloud and I see everything.
I see just beauty in everything; a little flower, a little plant. I just see it and I enjoy it. I love it.
" - Ricardo
Given the traditional lens that schools have used to view parent involvement
a paradigm shift is necessary
if we are to expect and ensure meaningful engagement.
Parental engagement goes beyond what is happening in the school
. Instead of “telling parents” what they can do, schools must empower and engage parents.
In an effort to promote this paradigm shift teachers, schools and administrators should:

Rupture the traditional parental involvement paradigm
Establish caring relationships
Build trust with parents
Identify parents' skills & interests
Increase parents' leadership roles based on their community cultural wealth
(familial capital - meeting basic needs)
Para mi estando con mis hijos es lo más importante. Sea jugando afuera o caminando a la tienda, siempre estoy con ellos y les digo lo que es bueno y lo que es malo.
For me being with my children is the most important thing. Whether we are playing outside or walking to the store, I am always with them, telling them what is right and what is wrong.

Critical Moments
Critical Moments as Resistant Capital
This more expansive way of thinking about parental engagement falls in line with the many ways parents are not only transmitting the various capitals of community cultural wealth but also nurturing those capitals – in this case familial capital.
(familial capital - transmitting values, beliefs, & life lessons)
All parents reflected on a critical moment in their own lives that framed their identity as parents and effectively shaped/(re)framed how they understood and conceptualized parental engagement.

Parents noted how movement across physical and metaphorical borders impacted how they perceived their role as a parent as well as how their identity impacted their understanding of parental engagement.
Uno no tenían oportunidad de estudiar en México. Mi familia no tenia mucho dinero. Vivíamos muy humilde pero yo sabía que quería más para mis hijos.
Cuando decide cruzar la frontera solo tenía a mi hijo más grande. Cruzamos yo y el.
Mi esposo ya estaba en Texas trabajando. Era difícil al principio pero estábamos juntos, mi marido, yo y nuestro hijo. Por eso les digo a mis hijos que se enfoquen en la escuela.
Sacrificamos mucho para estar juntos y quiero que mis hijos lo sepan.


We didn’t have an opportunity to continue our education in Mexico. My family didn’t have much money. We lived a humble life but I knew that I wanted more for children.
When I decided to cross the border, it was just me and my son. I crossed with him.
My husband was already in Texas working. It was difficult at first but we were reunited, my husband, me, and my son. That’s why I tell my children to focus on their education.
We sacrificed a lot to be together and I want my children to know this.

The act of crossing the U.S./Mexico border was pivotal to how Flor engaged with her children. Flor used moments when the family was together to share consejos with her children – to teach them what’s “bueno” and what’s “malo” and to more importantly remind her children what she and her husband sacrificed in order to be together as a family.
“ I would like to advise them [that] joining a gang is not worth it. You got jail behind it, violence. You got jail time behind it. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like.
I’ve been stabbed 12 times.
I’ve been there. I’ve been to a real street war. It’s not worth it. You can make money really, but y
ou will make more money with school if you just wait, take time to learn, build knowledge because that’s where everything is at.
You can actually be whatever you want to be.”
Critical Moments as Resistant Capital
Full transcript