How Far Should We Go To Help Our Kids Succeed?

How far should we go to help our kids succeed in life? Is doing their homework in second grade okay because the teacher doesn’t understand a 7-year old’s need for sleep and playtime while they do academic hours? Should we design and complete the 3D replica of a high rise that is earthquake proof and green efficient when our pre-teen comes home from middle school with a deadline fast approaching? Or should we blame the teachers and coaches when our high school students are not getting straight A’s and becoming top tier athletes? I mean, after all, isn’t their responsibility to make sure our kids are the best they can be?

At what point does a little help become excessive and not being involved enough become blurred? When should the heavy structured teaching, coaching, and guidance shift from teacher to student?  Where do the parent/teacher/student lines criss-cross? The direction to take can be overwhelming, and I’m confident we all want the next generation to be successful and strong. But at what cost? So many questions and so many opposing opinions. Look at what’s going on in the news with the college admissions scandal. The behavior of some parents and students is appalling. I shouldn’t be shocked. Things like this have gone on for years in sports.

While the same in concept feels different to me, you now have shown your young adult you don’t believe in them. They aren’t good enough, smart enough, or talented enough to get into college. You are saying money can buy you anything. Can it? What kind of example are you setting and what have you taught them. Life is not easy, and they should find that out now.  Learn to deal with rejection, and bask in the glow of success.

Every child walks their own path. As parents, we are there to walk beside them, holding their hands, picking them up when they fall, and giving them less guidance and support as they take off on their own. It’s important to remember some young adults may not attend college. The pressures of a university can be too much. They may opt for a junior college or a trade school, and that is perfectly fine. Our job as parents is to guide and support, push them to stretch themselves so they can reach their full potential. What we shouldn’t do is make them into something they are not.

Shame should have no place in decision making. All we should be concerned with is that they are doing what they love and doing it well.  If we place our desires and expectations on our children, they may never be happy and their discontent will carry over into their relationship with us.

Over the years there has been a progression of “my child has to be the best or I will look bad.” If my child doesn’t go to the best pre-school, then they won’t get into the best college. The pressure on both parents and children is so high that we feel WE have failed if our children do not exceed or they don’t meet that certain bar. Who set that bar and why should it be there at all? Maybe my take on the entire process is too simple. Perhaps I don’t understand the intensity of the situation. I know I just wanted my daughters to be well rounded in academics, sports and socially comfortable. I expected them to do their work to the best of their ability at each stage of their life.  My husband and I encouraged them to reach up and grab the next rung on the ladder and never to give up. What we didn’t do was their work for them, become disappointed when they didn’t get the grade they expected, but asked them instead what they could have done differently. We empowered them to talk with their teachers and become their own advocates. I am not saying we did everything right, just the best we could. Today I have two successful, independent young women that I am incredibly proud to call my daughters.

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