As I work every day, helping families find summer programs for their children, I do admit that the television is on in the background almost the entire day. It drowns out the constant jack hammer sounds I hear as they resurface the pool and seawall outside. So while listening, the much more famous “K” girl (Katie) is on TV interviewing people who are speaking my mantra. Reid Wilson, PhD & Lynn Lyons, LICSW, spoke and wrote about Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents. The kids are anxious about getting into schools and the kids have learned a myth about devoting their lives to “one path to success”.
The pressure put on our children, and they in turn put on themselves, is our culture of intensity. Is there truly only one path to success? Is there only one “best” school for veterinary medicine? One “best” school for engineering? One “best” way to be a successful member of society? I think not.
So many years ago, as my mom was suggesting redecorating tips to my first and new apartment (back in my 20′s), I said to my mom…. thanks so much for all of your advice and guidance over the years. Although I appreciate it, I ask you to respect my wishes and understand that there can be “more than one right!” I admit, it took a lot of courage to speak this way to my mother, who I respected wholeheartedly. I cried as the words came out of my mouth as I literally DEMANDED my independence. And I have grown so much since then with the blessing and pride of my mother.
Selecting the path of being the very best and the most accomplished also requires dramatic sacrifice to reach an elusive goal. I read the book Agassi…. Andres sharing how is father pushed him, pulled him, threatened him and trained him to be tops in a sport that he loved and hated. His socialization was dwarfed, his education was stifled and yet, he did ultimately, through the ups and downs, accomplish the goal of being tops in tennis and living a fulfilled life — ultimately. But alongside Andres, there were hundreds and hundreds of other teens who sacrificed their life…. and did not reach their goal. And along the way, many become 2 dimensional in their single minded endeavor to reach a specific goal via a specific path.
So how to balance the desire to achieve with the attitude that there is a “best way” in which to reach the goal?
We can return to the philosophy – there is more than one right!
I am getting the call from panicked parents when it comes to summer programming. Am I too late to sign my child up for camp? Are there still top internships available for my teen? Can he get into the top summer school programs even if we start now?
The answer is yes. There is more than one right fit. And yet, with the desire to achieve and move the ball forward to an ultimate goal of success, it is always important to identify the right fit and the right path. Don’t procrastinate, and don’t hyperventilate. Somewhere in between is the right attitude towards helping your child and teen meet their goals in the classroom, during the summer and in life.