Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ugh...I've Become That Parent.

A Conversation with my daughter Abigail:

Abby:  "Dad, I want ask you something.  But you need to keep an open mind, and not automatically so no"

Me: "Okay."  (I'm already slightly bothered by that first statement.  I always have an open mind!)

Abby: " I was asked to fill out some paperwork for a leadership position in YIG (Youth in Government), and like,I never thought anything would happen."  

Me: " Go on"....(flash back to last years YIG experience which led to a quick fall in grades.)

Abby: "So anyway, I got chosen for one of the leadership positions.  But it doesn't require a lot of work.  It's only a minor leadership position.  It will only be like one meeting a month.  I really don't have to prepare much.  I just have to help the younger YIG kids.  You know, when the debate is going slow, I make a quick speech to get things going."

Me:  "Uh huh.  What are you asking?"

Abby:  "Well I know how you didn't want me to do YIG again...and my mom is not real excited about it either and well I was just wondering?"

Me:  "Uh huh."

Abby: "Could I do YIG this year?  It won't take a lot of time and" . . . from this point on I didn't hear a thing she was saying.  My mind had shut down!  So much for being open minded.

Realizing she had stopped talking I began my rebuttal.

Me: " I just don't think it's a good idea" . . . ..then I began.  Here are the things I covered in my rebuttal.  

Time. It is all about time.  When are you going to have time to do YIG, Speech and Debate, Cross Country, and school.  You are going to take AP classes next year.  They are going to suck up any free time you thought you may have had.

It's your junior year next year.  The junior year is one the most important years for college.  This is the year they look at closely when you apply to colleges.

You didn't handle YIG and school well last year.  What makes you think you will be able to handle it better next year?

Time Abby!  It's all about time.  When are you going to find the time to do all of the things you want to do?

And on and on I went. I probably repeated myself a couple of times to emphasise my point!

Anyway the conversation came to an end and we moved on to something else. Something safer. 

But here's the rub.  The whole conversation bothered me.  A lot.  Here's why:

I feel like I always encourage my daughters to follow their passions and do things they enjoy.  Especially things that will make them better people.  

I always tell them, "I want you to have good grades and do well in school.  But at the end of the day that is not the most important thing in the world."   What is important is they become good, well rounded people. 

As an educator, I totally believe school is a valuable experience.  But sometimes, school gets in the way of real learning.  Where is my daughter going to learn about being a leader in a classroom?  We know students aren't leaders in a classroom.  Where is she  really going to learn how to cooperate and collaborate with others in a real and meaningful way? Probably not in a classroom.

Yep.  I became that parent.  The parent more worried about the grade and the potential impact on college and scholarships than I was on encouraging my daughters to pursue their passions and to grow into great young women. 

Anyway I texted my daughter this morning (that's how we communicate the most) and told her I was good with YIG.  

Could this impact college?  Yes.  She probably won't get into Furman or Wofford.  But hey there is always Midlands Tech.
Will this impact scholarships? Nah, it will probably help.
Will she learn those 21st century skills we always talk about? Yep.
Will her life suck next year? Yep
Will she complain?  Yep
Will I be sympathetic?  Nope.
Will I support her? Absolutely!  

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Good advice for all parents to remember. No wonder our girls are becoming creative, confident individuals who are also fun to be around. And besides, we couldn't afford Furman or Wofford anyway, so who cares...but just so you know, when I gave Abby a similar speech, I said Greenville Tech rather than Midlands Tech, just FYI....