While my husband Chris was growing up, he had always wanted to be a mechanical engineer, so it was quite a surprise when he announced to his father during his senior year of high school, that he might want to skip college and become a mechanic instead.
His dad asked him what made him change his mind, and he related that his school counselor back when he was a sophomore in high school in New York said to him, “Some people go to college, but you’re not college material.”
Chris’s parents had encouraged all of their kids to attend college, and after some back and forth exchange between them, they were able to re-focus Chris, and get him back on track for his original goal, and Chris did graduate from the University of Portland with an engineering degree.
Had his father not interjected, Chris may not have earned his engineering degree and license, nor his 23 patents. And he may not have met me since we met in college!
It’s so amazing how one person’s influence, just like that, could have changed the trajectory of my husband’s life.
Now this is not a post about the value of alternatives to a college education, some of which are numerous and outstanding. Trade schools that lead to other careers that do not require four-year degrees are important, and in Germany they really value various paths to a variety of quality vocations.
But, in the case of my husband, he had always wanted to be a mechanical engineer, and my father-in-law knew that and encouraged him in the path he needed to be on.
This is instead a post about how important it is for parents to believe in their kids and help them reach their life goals. In the case of my husband, it took a bit of prodding and back-story for Chris’s dad to learn what was going on in his son’s heart and help him sort out what he needed to. As a parent, this is crucial. Chris’s dad was supporting his son no matter what, and wanted to help him discern the influences in his life.
I saw an interview where CBS News Journalist Gayle King spoke with former First Lady Michelle Obama about her new book Becoming.When Mrs. Obama was in high school she had the goal of attending Princeton University, and her high school counselor told her, “You’re not Princeton material.”
But, Mrs. Obama wouldn’t let those words discourage her. I love how she explains it to Ms. King: “I had grown up with love, and support, and encouragement, and high expectations. But here I walked into this room with a woman who really didn’t know me…and she had to make a quick assessment…She didn’t try to figure me out. She just decided that the dream I presented was wrong.”
Mrs. Obama knew that the dream was not wrong and she of course did go on to Princeton despite the counselor’s words; she credits her supportive and loving family life for her decision.
This is so good.
And, dsometimes the goals and dreams of our kids change, and that is also okay, as long as it’s not based upon some negative person in their lives.
My daughter Rachel loved acting when she was in middle school and early high school, and wanted eventually to be a professional actress and move to Hollywood. When she found out about acting gigs around the city for commercials and such, I would drive her to those events, towing her brothers along for the ride. Sometimes they all got small modeling jobs and got paid.
As Rachel moved onto her sophomore year of high school her dreams changed, but it was not because of someone’s negative words. She wanted to go into social work instead, but no matter what, I was there for her just in case.
We need to support our kids’ dreams, no matter how far fetched and wide they are. Sometimes their dreams will change while other times those dreams just need some encouragement.
Either way, we need to be our kids’ number one cheerleader — and dream-believer.
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This is the 15th post of my 30 Days of November HOW I MOM blog & social media series. I’d love to hear from you. How do you mom? Who influenced you for the positive or negative when it came to your dreams and goals. #howimom30 #howyoumom30 #parenting #navigatingmotherhood
Thanks for reading.