Dream snatchers beware!

dreams and wishes. 62/365

This is the time of year when I regularly engage in reflective conversations with graduating seniors.  I consider the discussions with these young adults to be an honor.  Why?  Because if you have any experience with teenagers—as a parent, a teacher, a coach, an advisor, or anything else, you know that they can been restrained in articulating their inner thoughts. When they want to talk, listen. 

Remove your parenting hat for a moment. Please.

Teens want to be spoken to—not down to. “Mrs. Cain, I always enjoyed talking to you because our conversations were cool!  You talked to me like I was an adult.”  TJ, a former student, said this to me on many occasions.

My conversations with these young adults are revealing and insightful. The lessons exchanged between me and the students are unending.

A common dilemma for students is, choosing a career path… and with their parent/guardian’s blessing.  If choosing the career path isn’t difficult enough, obtaining their parent/guardian’s blessing is often the greater hurdle of the two.

Today’s conversation involved a respectful student who will receive her high school diploma in two and half weeks.  For over a year, she talked to me and others about pursuing a career in the culinary arts.

I asked if she had followed through on an educational and apprenticeship program (affiliated whit a local community college) that I recommended to her.  As she fumbled over her words, head down, eyes lowered, in a slight whisper, she replied, “Well, my mom said that she doesn’t see me doing culinary arts.  She says that I should go to college and study business.”

My chest rises as I take a notable deep breath.  I loudly exhale.  Wow!  I am deeply saddened and emotionally moved.  I wanted to walk over to her, give her tight hug and say,

 “To hell with what your mother wants!  This is your dream!  Run!  Don’t let her steal your dreams.

Reality check!!!!  I can’t say that!

“Listen KI, while I appreciate the fact that your mother loves you and wants the best for you. I also appreciate that you respect your mom, however, you have to live your dreams for you…not your mom’s dreams for you.”

I am so sick and tired of hearing this same comment from teens.   Parents!  Chill out!  Live your own dreams!  Don’t snatch your kids’ dreams faway from them!

These young adults are being placed in a very difficult position.  They respect and love you as their parent/guardian—they don’t want to disappoint you. Many don’t know how to or are petrified to tell you that their dream for themselves differ from yours. 

Yeah I know– we are smarter, wiser, more experienced, blah, blah, blah….   

Did you know that there’s a college dropouts hall of fame list? The assorted list includes such successes as Mark Zuckerberg, Jay-Z, William Shakespeare, Russell Simmons, Troy Aikman (my all-time favorite quarterback), Jane Austin, Kathy Ireland, Mario Andretti, Louis Armstrong, Ben Affleck, Will Smith, Frank Sinatra, and founder of whole foods, John Mackay.

I mention the hall of fame website to reinforce my point that the route to achieving success, (a highly debatable and vague word) varies for most.   

I do not promote skipping college, dropping out of high school, nor discontinuing ones education. I am comitted to being a life-long learner and encourage students to do the same.

I promote what is best for each individual student. With the increasing debt accrued by college students, it is vital that students who attend college really want to attend.

I don’t claim to know any child better than thier parent.  As a matter of fact, there are times when I am perplexed by my own kids.  

With respect to career advice, I try to guide students individually and avoid the cookie cutter approach; it doesn’t work.

Regardless of our perception of how outlandish a child’s dream is, their dream deserves to be heard and respected.  If our dreamers are hardworking and willing and ready to make the necessary commitments and sacrifices, then, we are obligated to help them in finding the path most realistic and suitable for them.

Have you ever been laughed at for an idea?  Has someone ever told you that your idea was dumb, stupid, or unrealistic?   When dream snatchers intrudes on one’s dreams, they hurt feelings.  The act is like throwing a gallon of water on a lit match.  The water overpowers and suffocates the flame.  We must be careful to avoid asphyxiating the dreams of our youth.  

If you are a parent or have influence over a young adult through other means, I urge you to encourage and to help to stretch the dreams of our future leaders.  

Today we enjoy the luxury of computers , cell phones and more. They perform functions that many of us never dreamed of.  The fact:  someone else envisioned and stretched an idea far beyond its conception and for that we should all be grateful.  

“Press On!”
– The late Rev. Robert L. Cain

 Sites worth a  peek:

http://collegedropoutshalloffame.com/

http://www.ztcollege.com/ (Zero Tuition College)


BOARDING SCHOOL: Part-Time Parenting?

>Recently I ran into a friend and former colleague, whom I haven’t seen in many years. We briefly chatted about our careers and our families. He mentioned that his job required him to travel so his children attended boarding school. All of his comments about boarding school were positive. For some reason, the one comment that stood out in my mind was that, “it really helped with the homework thing.”

His comment really got me to thinking about boarding school. Could I send my son to a boarding school? Would he receive a better education there? What else would my son learn? I certainly understand what he said about homework. Any responsible parent, who lived through the arduous experience of helping their child with homework, will tell you it can be exhaustive, challenging, and a real test of your patience.

A part of me believes that sending my son off to boarding school would be “passing the buck” on my parental obligations.

What about sports and other extra curricula activities? Yes; some boarding schools have strong athletic programs, but what about being there to show my support for him. I’d miss out on the cherished memories of continuing to watch him grow as an athlete, as a young adult or miss his performance on the debate team. Sure, I’d attend some games and other school activities, but I would certainly miss more than I could attend.

As a parent, how can I be certain that my son is being treated equitably? Yeah, I would miss a great deal of treasured moments with him. Most of all, he would miss the positive influences of his dad; which cannot be replaced by any academic program.

The life and personality of a teenager evolves slowly. If my son attended boarding school, both of us would miss out on all the life learning opportunities that take place everyday at home.   Of course, I know first hand experience that raising a teenager is one of the most challenging experiences of parenthood.

I can be honest and say that having my teenager away at school during some of the most tumultuous year’s sounds appealing. After all, the staff would have the responsibility of making sure he made it to class on time, that he had adequate study time. The staff would have the heated and ugly debates on why he has a curfew, and making certain that he went to bed at a reasonable time- All I would have to do is call him daily, pay the tuition, and be a loving & dutiful full-time parent on the weekends, holidays, and breaks. Some parents wouldn’t dare speak these words, fear of being perceived as a bad parent, but it’s just a thought and I’m certain that someone out there shares this sentiment with me.

The Art & Science Group, a marketing research & consulting firm based in Baltimore conducted a comparative study for The Association of Boarding Schools (TAB). This “contemporary study of secondary school education” reported that 91% of boarding school students found their school was academically challenged; compared to 70% private & 50% public school students. The study also reported that boarding school students spent more time doing homework felt more academically prepared for college, felt more prepared for “non academic life,” and earned more advanced degrees than private and public school students. I wondered about the quality of relationships that boarding school students have with their parents and siblings; the study generally reported that 86% of boarding school students reported being very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their family life. It did not give any in depth details about relationships with  parents or siblings. To read the complete report, I contacted the marketing firm who conducted the study and was told that the research data was proprietary information; TAB would have to approve release of the information. If TAB is genuinely concerned about educating the public about boarding schools, they should publish complete reports and not partially edited data that could mislead readers.

Did the study change my mind about boarding school? No. It did however; interest me enough to want to further learn more on the topic. As a parent, I firmly believe that I should be well rounded and well informed. Being open minded enough to educate myself on unfamiliar topics related to parenthood is important to me and to the overall well being of my family. Will my son attend boarding school? Probably not, but ask me again in seven years.

Readings
http://www.ourkids.net/school/associations.php?id=tabs
http://boardingschools.com/for-schools.aspx
http://www.facebook.com/boardingschool
http://www.artsci.com/