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04/04/2011

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Laurie Moore

I worked hard to keep my daughter in private school. We ate a lot of tuna casserole for 7 years. My goal was that with a fine education, she'd get a scholarship so I wouldn't have to pay for college. I told her this.

In turn, she worked as hard to meet my expectations as I worked to give her the best education possible. She saw me do without. She did without. She also received scholarships to 3 universities and picked the one she liked best.

Here was my personal sacrifice to help her reach the goal: I stayed home in the evenings with my daughter while she did her homework, when I would've rather gone out with my friends. But it paid off when she got the brass ring.

Laurie Moore

Here's my question: What are this child's parents doing for her to help her achieve the goal?

Silent Musings For Grown Children

I find your post interesting because of how I parented my own college age children. We chose to not set goals for our children; rather, to have them set their own goals and ask how we could help them accomplish the goals if they needed help. Their education started in a Montessori setting through 7th grade, then homeschool, then on to a public high school. Prior to high school there had been no grades. In high school we continued to place no emphasis on grades. No rewards for good grades, no punishment for bad grades. Instead, we all chose to be involved in education by sharing what we were learning. Homework might have been done in the living room while watching Mythbusters, each of us with our own computer, discussing what we were doing and how it related to what the others were doing. If one person was reading, say, Pride and Predudice, we might end up talking about whether or not the heroine would have ever used Algebra 2, which might lead to a question about how to perform a specific math problem, which might lead to how that math might be utilized in creating a Profit and Loss statement, which might lead to a conversation about women in the workforce, and then to dating, and back to what dating was like during the time which Pride and Predudice was set. School work became a source of each of us enlarging our world and perspective. Grades seemed to follow. High school seemed to be a way to reach college, and college was a goal set by the kids. If a specific class had a difficult assignment which led to a low grade, we would talk about whether the student minded that grade. If he did, we would talk about why and what solutions there might be.

We always focused on being the best they could be, recognizing that none of us ever reach 100% of our potential all day, every day. We, as parents, would point out that the kids should try to be well rounded and have a variety of activities they enjoyed and to not focus on being Tiger Woods...even Tiger Woods can't be as good as Tiger Woods. My/our thought was that if the kids build their entire sense of self around one area of success, eventually they would "fail" in that area; eventually somebody would come along and beat them.

Here is what is interesting to me. As much as my goal was for them to feel good about areas they succeeded in based on their own choices and definitions, as much as I hoped they would build self esteem through actual good works as opposed to pats on the back for nothing accomplished, as much as I thought I was teaching them to create their own definition of success..guess what they heard? Both of our children, independently, have said to us that they believe we, their parents, didn't think they were able to do well enough, or to win, or be the best.

In our effort to remind them that achievement and accomplishment is not all that matters, somehow what came across was a lack of belief in their abilities. Somehow, while asking them to set their own bar, they thought we lacked confidence in them. I have no idea how that came across. They each won state high school athletic championships and we were there for all the events saying how happy we were for them and cheering until our voices cracked. The each had a tip top class rank and we photographed awards ceremonies and listened to congratulatory speeches. We were proud, of course, but we tried to tell them and others that our pride is for them because their achievements are not our reflections. Their achievements are theirs.

It is a fine line, setting high standards, providing kudos when earned, and expressing belief in capabilities. Sometimes, as parents, we can't know what will be heard from what we say and do.

Debra Atkisson

Thank you for your comments. I find your observations to be enlightening. We often don't think about how our child might interpret our comments. Your experience will be helpful to me and others.

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I think we should let the children choose their own goals, to do do what they like and we as parents should guide them, tell them what is good or not, not to enforce them to do something that they don't like or to be forced to go to a school that mom or dad want. They should decide what they want to do in the future.

Debra Atkisson

I agree - but I do think that we need to help them with their thinking in order to make those choices. I agree with you - that we as parents should guide them. Thanks for your comments.
Dr. Debra

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