You took the words right out of my mouth - Oh, I swear it's true.” -- Meatloaf
I apologize in advance if this song is now playing in your head for the rest of the day! I am right there with you - I haven’t stopped singing it all morning.
Seriously, I couldn’t have said this next bit better. Ken Douglas Tsoi, J.D., is a Parent and Faculty Educator for Challenge Success, an organization that works with schools and families to develop alternative models of success that align with what we now know about healthy child development. He recently wrote, “Despite the prevalent messaging out there, your choice of college won’t determine your life. This is true, despite what you might hear from your peers, the media, parents, teachers, and even your own fears. College is an important step. But it’s not going to make you, and it’s not going to break you. Everything is going to be OK, no matter where you go. Wherever you go, you’re going to learn, get opportunities, and meet interesting people. When you become an adult and look back, you’ll see that how you used college was more important to your success, happiness, and life satisfaction than where you went to college.”
You can read the whole article here.
The question is, how do we sway our children to believe us when their friends, social media, tik-tok, and even the newspapers (not that our children read them) send a much flashier message about how the school you attend will determine the rest of your life so you need to do everything you can in high school to secure a coveted spot there?
Never more have we needed to embrace the “It takes a village” mentality. We need to work together to send the same message.
We need to stop putting pressure on our kids to know exactly who they are and what they want to do in the future (believe me - there was never a day in high school that I thought I would be a college advisor. See my blog Follow Your Yellow Brick Road for more on that story).
We need to allow our kids to quit, fail, and make mistakes.
We need to allow our kids to work at their own pace.
We need to allow our kids to choose a college that “is less than” in our eyes.
And to borrow words from another expert in the field, Michele Borba, we need to allow our kids to “thrive, not strive.” Stay tuned - I will have a lot to say about this over the next few months.
I recently met with a family who walked the walk but did not talk the talk. In our initial meeting, they said all the “right” things: “We don’t care where our child goes to school. We just want him to be happy.” I think they truly meant it.
Yet every follow-up conversation/email/interaction has been focused on their concerns that their child is not studying enough for the SAT, that he is not signing up for enough clubs, and that he is behind the eight ball because he does not have an interest in looking for a spectacular activity for next summer. But what if he were to work at a supermarket, scooping ice cream, or waiting tables?
From where I sit, these opportunities are just as if not more important than what he might learn at an internship that his next-door neighbor’s sister-in-law got him. He would not only learn the lessons of earning independent spending money and the work ethic needed in the adult world but see a different side of life that would give him perspective on the whole college application process.
Believe me, I have high school students myself (a senior - yikes! And a sophomore). It is hard not to worry about all of those things. But when we let our own anxieties about their future creep into our conversations, they stop believing that they can and should chart their own course through adolescence, whether that means following a passion or deciding to get a job.
So let’s work together to form a more compelling voice than tik-tok. Consistency, stability, and wisdom from a trusted adult can overshadow the noise and flash of social media.