My single memory of applying to college was asking my mother for 2 checks needed to accompany the submitted forms and essays.
I don’t think she really knew what I hoped to pursue academically. I don’t think she asked. I don’t think I really knew either.
Taking a 180 degree turn my sophomore year, I changed my major from business to speech and hearing sciences.
My stomach still churns when I hear terms like “marginal utility” and “monopolistic competition.” Two weeks into microeconomics, and my desire to enter the world of business shrank to a minuscule inclination.
Please God, let me spend the rest of my days without viewing a radically misnamed “Laffer Curve.” Believe me, studying this model during my freshman year, brought not smiles, but tears to my eyes. (Of course, I knew that it was named after the economist, Arthur Laffer; but, at the time this offered little consolation.)
To this day, I still suffer “PTED” (Post-Traumatic Economics Disorder).
Remarkably, my transformation from studying money to a helping profession all transpired without a single conversation with my parents.
Admittedly, I was fiercely independent, but it never even occurred to me that it would matter to them.
I guess in those days, most parents wanted to launch their kids and hoped they’d find their way.
In the 1960’s, Psychologist, Diana Baumrind, identified 4 parenting styles:
- Authoritarian: This type of parent is very controlling. The style is highly punitive and strict discipline is a hallmark.
- Authoritative: These parents help their teens to maintain limits, but encourage independence.
- Permissive: Permissive parents ask little of their children. Indulgence is the key and giving in to adolescent demands is common.
- Uninvolved: These parents place no demands on their children. They lack warmth and may even be identified as neglectful.
During the early years, Frank, and I did our best to lay the foundation for faith, communication, decision-making and self-discipline. I would say that our parenting style has been authoritative. Now that the boys are teens, we are allowing the kids to make their own decisions within established guidelines. This is not always easy. Many times, we fail. So, when it comes to making decisions about future academic plans, we work to allow John to pursue reasonable dreams, but we are also influenced by present day parenting practices.
This is not a good thing.
I must confess.
At times, I feel conflicted.
At times, I feel insecure.
At times, I’d like some of that Michael Jackson propofol to hibernate me until May!
Today’s college admissions culture is radically different from my own. For some reason, it seems as if many of us are trying to find our teen’s way for them. I guess it is an extension of the “child as project” society in which we live.
And, as my older son wraps up his college application process, I have a few questions that plague me:
- Why was I always so encouraging, yet “hands-off” when it came to John’s pursuits?
- Should I have directed him more strongly to immerse himself into a wider variety of academic areas instead of trusting him to find his niche?
- When “he knew better,” about goals for his future and how to attain them, should I have found a way (don’t think I didn’t try!) to communicate my wisdom gained from experience, rather than to merely support his process?
The answers are no, no and no!
This child has known what he wanted from the day of his birth.
I believe that John has always believed that given the right opportunities, he would find his way in this world.
And so, as the “waiting season” begins, I must remember that it is John who is anticipating responses to his college applications, not I.
After all, this is the beginning of John finding his way to HIS future, not mine.
Now, if he could just find “a way” to pay for it all!
“Do not prepare the path for the child. Prepare the child for the path and he will find his way.”
Funny how my “authoritative” mother knew exactly what she was doing when she allowed me to do it on my own.
I welcome your thoughts on this subject!
Have a terrific Tuesday,