Information sharing in my household

Damion Nickerson,
Engagement Manager,
Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing

As a father of three children aged 16, 15, and 12, I am used to the trials and tribulations of teenagers and the endless stream of information about boyfriends, girlfriends, football teams losing, football teams winning, who did what to whom and when and the endless list of requests for information which includes but is not exclusive to:

  • the code for access to the wi-fi;
  • intricate life and transport information in minute details that will subsequently be forgotten within minutes;
  • Amazon orders and requests for the use of your credit card, which you will definitely be paid back for at the end of the month, and….
  • the usual bizarre questions e.g. why do clouds exist? Or if you were a millionaire would you buy a donkey? (all of which I’m embarrassed to admit I have been asked this week by my children).

Over the last two weeks my eldest has been taking her GCSE’s and to be honest; I wish I’d found a hotel to live in with my wife and the dogs! Information sharing in the household has been over complicated, emotionally demanding and our governance system seems to have fallen by the wayside (apparently during exams bedtime is actually a theoretical time within the universe determined by relative factors that you or I couldn’t possibly even comprehend).

Trying to get information from a teenager at any time can be a gut wrenching, demoralising journey within a culture that you cannot possibly hope to understand unless of course you have two i-phones strapped to your head and a constant drip linked into Instagram – this of course is only if one of your children is not sitting their exams.

Firstly there is the exam timetable – three different versions, the final version which I had taken as complete had actually omitted a subject sending my daughter into a spiralling wave of defeatism. When you finally can get this information, corrected and then clarified by the school you relay this information only to be told ‘yes I already know!’ my information was now out of date therefore my service as a father was devalued.

Secondly was the customary resource check that I had instigated, nobody was available for the second exam school drop off due to work commitments – a call to a parent similarly suffering exam information sharing stress overload syndrome (EISSOS) was happy to do the drop off….. all fine as long as the children from said families were actually still friends – we definitely had missed that conversation.

Technology and equipment had also let us down, who would know that the pencil case zip would upset the calm or that the trusty calculator would have been borrowed by my youngest son and not replaced in said broken pencil case causing an outbreak of total household war.

When gauging pre-exam readiness, I was struck at how similar this was to work in local places. I was the image of a department that had a positive cultural attitude to the exchange of information whereas my daughter’s method resembled a department whose culture was to hit the ‘no information will be shared with you’ button at any given moment. I did try to explain the legislative reasoning behind sharing i.e. I was her parent, she had a duty to share her worries and concerns and I could help her if she shared with me – unfortunately though my legal argument fell on closed ears.

Finally, the post exam review of what we could have all done to make the information sharing journey more accessible, easier and less stressful to all concerned turned into a huge blaming session which concluded in silence eating a lovingly prepared spaghetti bolognaise.

So, what are the information sharing lessons from this story? Can I possibly share wisdom and learning? I’m actually not qualified – like the best partnerships in information sharing you have to find a way through together, understanding the culture, the technology, the governance and the importance of the information that you need to share. Alternatvely you can read all about the lessons the centre has learnt about information sharing in our Cross cutting themes document.

Well to conclude this blog I’d like to tell you that we are entering a period of calm…. I would like to tell you that but I can’t. I fear I may be living like this for at least another four weeks at which time my son starts his first mock exams! I’d better book that hotel.

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