My two youngest children at opposite ends of High School, one starting and one ending this year. My older son wants to be a video game programmer / designer. My youngest wants to be a physicist or a bio-engineer. My older son wants to go to a college in Utah, my younger son told us this week he wants to go to Yale.
My heart is proud of both of these boys for planning out their future doing what they want to do. At the same time I can’t help but feel anxiety over how they will get there. The thing is, I have no doubt that they can do these things…. I’m just not familiar with the roads to get there, so that makes me worry, because I don’t already know how to be helpful… but that is my issue… not theirs. I don’t need to project that upon them.
My worries, really doesn’t matter. I have to remember, its not about me or my worries. Its their adventure to start, and I don’t want anyone impeding that.
We shared the news with a couple groups of family and they immediately start in with the “Well you need to do this” and “Are you sure that is what you want to do”… and “Its going to be hard”, and “You better figure out scholarships and get student loans”….. blah blah blah….
Why do adults do this? Why is their initial reaction to scare kids off? I know adults mean well, just wanting the kid to be prepared for the world and work ahead of them, but over the years I’ve discovered that often what makes things harder to manage is plain being psyched out early over how daunting the challenges in front of you are. There are multiple ways to achieve goals, and what is hard for one person, might be fine for another person and totally within their ability.
Instead of saying “Oh thats going to be a lot of work”…. why don’t we say more things like “Oh! What steps do YOU need to get to that goal?”… or if you actually care to be helpful… “Do you need help gaining access to finding out the information you need to plan this?”
If you want to help a kid, then encourage THEM to research and identify what they need to achieve their goal. Adults rarely know all the ins & outs of what they are so opinionated over. Want kids to succeed… Don’t identify what they “need” for them – because in most cases, (while few admit it) adults will really only have a partial idea anyway… because things change faster than we like to admit.
Everyone’s life has “hard work” times involved, and maybe this piece is hard for you, but not hard for your kid. Maybe instead of psyching kids out… maybe instead just let them know that you are supportive of them applying themselves to their own goals. Maybe instead of you pointing out what they’ll “need to do”… maybe instead encourage them to think it out by asking what their road looks like. Ask what their plans are in tackling those things.
I listened to adults way too much…. and I regret that.
Growing up there were three things I really thought about doing when I grew up. I wanted to be an architect.. and when I mentioned it, it was brought up that at the time (mid-school) that I struggled and had to actually try hard at math as it was, so maybe that architecture might be “too hard” for me to be good at.
(I really should have questioned how an adult with absolutely no personal experience with architecture in the first place (and no access to “google” back then, nor someone who visited a library ever) felt like they KNEW this would be too much of a problem for me. (and by the way… thanks for having no faith that I could get better at math, or encouraging me to get better at math… I just “wasn’t good” and apparently that wouldn’t change.) I wish I would have really questioned how seriously to take their opinion. I think this is part of the bad with being brought up rather sheltered)
Later in High School, I contemplated being a counselor or a teacher. When I mentioned that, my Mother told me I was way too sensitive to be a counselor so I wouldn’t be very good at it. I would cry with my patients and not be able to handle helping people with problems.
So later I thought about being a teacher, but my family did not have the money for school. I was told basically the only way I could do that is if I got really good grades and got a bunch of scholarships and student loans. I got A’s and B’s, and ended up getting one scholarship that paid for 3 classes worth at the local community college. I was told that student loans would be really hard for me to get because I had nothing of value to leverage for a loan, and I didn’t have family that could (or would) co-sign. I just believed all this too. Adults know what they’re talking about right? They’ve lived, so they know.
I found out later that isn’t exactly how student loans work. I should have looked into myself instead of trusting adults so much
I did my three classes, and then when that scholarship ran out I was done.
I don’t at all regret having my kids or current family, but I do regret listening so intently to some of the adults that “knew me”, that I put their worries ahead of forging my own path. That I just took what they said as being gospel. That I didn’t have the confidence or commons sense to question what I was told.
There is a difference between listening and accepting that what your told as being correct… Its fine to listen to what others opinions are, honestly its good to listen… but its important to not blindly accept something as absolute truth. Its important to remember that opinions are often cloaked as knowledge.
I hope I will teach my kids to make their own choices and forge their own way by doing the research and implementation themselves.