So.... You Got Your Kid Through High School, Now What?
If you’ve been alive and reading the news within the past few weeks, I’m sure you’ve seen the headlines about Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman paying massive amounts of money - read bribing - top universities to let their, possibly unqualified children into said university to…. study? Learn? Who knows.
If you’re like me, your first reaction was probably something like, “WHAT?! Not Aunt BECKY!” Although, one should not assume that Lori Loughlin is anything like her Full House character in real life, but I digress. What I want to talk about is the bigger picture. No, not the fact that some very wealthy people paid a LOT of money just so their children could have the privilege of saying they went to a prestigious university. No, not the fact that the educational system is often rigged in favor of the wealthy. The bigger picture is the fact that these parents paid this money to get their kids into college, with no thoughts about the consequences and I’m not talking about consequences of the legal kind either.
The consequences I’m talking about are the ones that fall on their children. Consequences I see every day in my practice. I often hear parents talk about “helping” - read doing the work for their children - because their children don’t understand the importance of graduating high school so they can get into a good college… which is true! Our kids don’t know the value of a good education because their frontal lobes haven’t developed enough to understand that our current actions have future consequences. But, I could also argue that parents also don’t know how their current actions create future consequences.
Let me paint a picture for you. A parent sits across from me telling me they did little Susie’s homework because she’s tired and has too many other commitments to be bothered to finish her math homework. And it was just one time, she’ll get her time management skills under control eventually and the parent won’t have to do her homework again. Then, next week, the same parent comes back saying they did not only the math homework, but the English homework as well, because Susie was again tired and burnt out from all of her commitments. The following week, it’s math, science, and English… then the next week it’s math, science, English, and the art project. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this and I promise my story has a point.
Yes, our children often don’t understand the importance of getting good grades and graduating high school, so they can get into a good college, get a good job, and be successful in life. We know that because we’ve either made the mistake of not taking high school seriously, or vice versa, so we know what’s at stake. Our children are not wired for to understand good grades = good life right now, but when we do FOR them, they don’t learn either. They don’t learn good organizational skills, they don’t learn how to manage their time, and they definitely don’t learn how to do math! What they do learn is that they can be lazy, and that mom and dad will be there to do it for them.
So, you get your kid through high school by doing their work for them, then what? Will you go with them to college and do their work for them there? Will you be there to wake them up and make sure they are on time to class? Will you be there to talk to their teachers and intercede on their behalf when they miss class, or forget to do their work? Maybe colleges should build dorms for parents…. just kidding… that would be weird. It is possible that if your child stays home and goes to a local or community college that you might be there to do all of those things for them and if that’s the case, replace the word high school with college in the title and text, and apply the rest of what I’m saying to the time when your child has a job.
The skills your child learns in high school follow them. Shoot, the skills your child learns in preschool follow them! And even though, for a little while, it was our job as parents to “do for,” as the child gets older, our job changes to “teach them how to do for themselves.” Many times children are not lazy (in some cases yes, but not all), they are a product of what they’ve been taught. It is quite possible that Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman’s children were perfectly capable of getting into a prestigious school all by themselves, but their parents never really gave them a chance to figure that out, did they?
Let me be clear. I’m not judging any parent who sees them self in anything I’ve said so far. We’re all likely guilty of stepping in and doing for our kids at some point because we’re freaking parents! I don’t want to see my children hurt, or fall behind, or struggle. The mother in me would actually like to wrap them in bubble wrap and keep them with me always, but the clinician in me knows that’s not healthy. Children need to make mistakes. They need to fail. Otherwise, they won’t learn.
And that, my friends, is the moral of the story, set your child up to be the best child they can be. Give them the tools they need to be successful. TEACH them good time management skills. TALK to them about their experience in school and where they think they need help and SEEK help if they need it. Neurofeedback works great for a variety of mental health disorders like ADHD, anxiety, or slow cognitive processing. Counseling can do a tremendous amount of good for those who need to talk out their problems. If you’re not sure what kind of help your child needs, you can always do psychological testing to figure things out. You have resources at your disposal and your children, when they’re older… much older… will thank you for it.
Drop a comment below and let me know your side of the story.