What are the messages we send to our children about their future?   2 comments

“You’ll never make it in college.” Those words were spoken to me as I sat in the guidance counselor’s office of my high school, in 1985, to meet with him about the recent SAT test I had taken.  I was an okay student in high school, probably around a 3.0 gpa, but I never really studied or applied myself.  I liked music and focused my energy on band, not academics.  I don’t even remember taking the SAT, but I vividly remember having that counselor, who didn’t even know me, tell me I’d never make it in college, and brush me aside.  This person based my potential for success on a test and what I heard was, “You are stupid.”  That was a very profound moment for me and it affected how I viewed myself for quite awhile.  He was right in the fact that I wasn’t ready for college at that time, but I wasn’t confident enough yet in myself and that lack of confidence allowed his words to have power over me.

I think about kids everywhere who are given messages like these at some point in their schooling, either subtly or outright.  Instead of encouragement to grow and do better, often kids are made to feel inept and not good enough.  Even private schools aren’t immune to having this affect on kids.  My oldest son, after being homeschooled, decided he wanted to go to high school and graduated from a small Christian school. He did very well academically, but struggled with messages he received there that he was not good enough morally.

What are the messages we send to our homeschooled kids about their future potential?  Do they over hear us talking with grandma about the fact that they can’t seem to grasp math or just aren’t ‘getting’ reading?  Do they hear us say that we can’t imagine them as college material?  As parents, we know our children well, and can often guess the type of career path that they may choose in life.  But sometimes I see a tendency in homeschoolers to keep such a focused eye on that one path that they do not prepare their children for other choices.  I’ve heard parents claim that they don’t envision their daughter going to college, so they aren’t going to worry about higher level high school – and their daughter is only 12.  Or that they envision their son going to go to a tech school so they are just going to have him take the GED.   

True – this may be the path these kids choose, or is it the other way around – that they get the message that’s what they should do?   Life has a way of changing us and where will this boy and girl find themselves in life in seven, eight or ten years?  The son whose parents told him his best bet was the GED may want to enter the military, only to find out that they take a very limited number of GED applicants.  He also has to live with the stigma that when he hands in a job application people assume he was a high school drop out.  Or the girl may decide, at age 20, that she wants to go to college, and finds that she needs to take many remedial courses for which she can’t receive credit.  Why put limitations on our children’s future, by sending them the message that ‘this’ way is the way for them or purposefully limiting their education?   

Teens look to the adults in their life to help build them up – whether they admit it or not – and to help them gain confidence that they can tackle whatever steps necessary to achieve their goals.  Instead of saying, “You’ll never make it in college,” that counselor could have said, “Okay – you have some work to do and these are the steps you can take to better your score.”  Instead of closing doors for our children by limiting their high school education or sending them the message that they’re not college material, or that they don’t measure up to some high moral standard, or will never join the military – we, as homeschooling parents, or the schools we send them to, should be equipping them with all they will need – academically, emotionally and spiritually to go through any door they choose.

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Posted April 16, 2011 by The Nonconformist Mom in Uncategorized

2 responses to “What are the messages we send to our children about their future?

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  1. Good advice, Yolanda, it really hit close to home for me today. I’ve been trying to balance realistic with “you can do anything, Honey!” regarding Moriah and I think I’m getting too far on the other side. It’s one thing to realistically prepare kids for their future, but quite another to set them up for failure.

  2. You’re right Cindi in that some kids realistically may not be able to do anything, but we don’t want to set them up for failure and unnecessary struggle as you said. Some kids are just late bloomers and it takes them longer to emotionally mature. Thanks for posting!

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