Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What I Pass On to My Daughter

After reading an excellent article discussing the danger of praising children on their smarts, my husband and I ended up discussing our own method for raising our daughter, Thea.  After a while, I commented, that I hope I am not one of those teacher mom's that is hard for her teachers to deal with.  The one that is too over-involved because they believe to the core that their child is smart, funny, articulate, and creative (not gifted, just normal smart).  My husband was kind enough to let me know that he would help me control myself but then posed an excellent question; what if our daughter is just like me?

Most people would jump for joy if their children turned out just like them.  And sure, there are many qualities that I wish I could just pass on to Thea.  I have a pretty good sense of sarcasm and humor, I love abundantly and loudly.  I am honest to a fault (surprise!) and I work very hard at my goals.  I am a nurturer, a believer in people, and a devoted friend, wife, sister, and daughter.  These are all fine qualities that I know Thea will have as well.  However, there are things that I hope she misses out on from me and instead takes after my husband.

You see, I am an overachiever.

Ever since grade school where my mother was told I needed to apply myself, I have had a very twisted view of education for myself.  Not only is it something to master, but it must be conquered, slayed, and nullified for me to be pleased.  I went through college working full-time and taking 18 or more credits every semester.  I was that student that always raised their hand, always had an answer, or even worse an opinion.  I was past the point of really caring whether others liked me or not, I was there to get a good grade - an A - and nothing else.  And I did.  I ended up graduating Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 GPA.  No one was prouder than myself.  I thought I had done it, I was on top of the world with my diploma and my drive.  My family was just thrilled that this maniacal journey was over.  See no one really cares what your GPA is once you graduate. They had explained this to me before, but still I was relentless.  I pushed myself so hard that I had a panic attack before leaving for my honeymoon because of a science exam.  I worked and worked, always trying to get it just right, making it perfect, and for what?  A diploma?

So when I think of qualities for my daughter to inherit, being an overachiever is not something I wish for her.  In fact I don't wish it on anyone.  Instead, I hope for her to have fun with learning, to realize that grades are not the end all, that the award is truly the learning journey and not the end result.  I carry this hope for my students as well.  I want them to experience school as a place to explore and gain knowledge, not to join a race to the top, always pushing for better grades and more rewards.  I want to stop the insanity before it becomes so infested in their soul that they end up like me; pushing themselves to perfection and forgetting to enjoy the journey.  What luxury it is to get an education, isn't it about time we teach our students to enjoy the ride?

Which qualities do you wish your children or students get or do not get?  What would you change?

3 comments:

Diana Fingal said...

Yes! What you said.

Z said...

I could have written this very post myself. I have two daughters (4 & 2) and I often catch myself being more teacher-y than mommy. I hate that about me. My husband loves it. Says he wishes his parents would've taken an interest in his studies then maybe they would've discovered his dyslexia earlier rather than in college while on his own.

I understand and feel where he's coming from but I often have to remind myself the very same thing you wrote, LET'S ENJOY THE RIDE! I think there is a balance I haven't yet figured out. I also believe that being more involved works for some and doesn't for others.

For example, my 4yr old LOVES to learn. When I get home she asks me, "Can you help me study my letters?" Love that! However, my 2yr old I can already tell doesn't enjoy being pushed. I try to sit and read with her and show her the colors and shapes in books and it isn't a favorite activity for her. She'd rather throw the book and play catch than sit and read it.

I do hope my daughters and my students understand the importance of learning and being inquisitive and questioning and researching the world around them but not because it's important for a GPA but rather because it's important for a life lived well.

Susan said...

I LOVE this post! I think many teacher moms can relate to this and have this same wish. We have the wonderful gift of being able to see how education unfolds; where it has been and where it is going, and can be assured that grades are not the most important thing in life. You should keep this post, print it and give it to your daughter when she's about 13. What a beautiful message!

 

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