One of the most amazing things about the kids at LEADPrep is that every single one of them is so uniquely different. And we don’t try to pretend that they’re not. There’s no trying to fit anyone into a box and we honor everyone’s unique personalities and interests.
That’s not typical. Too many schools require students to learn from a prescribed curriculum so they qualify for this four-year college or that post-secondary program.
And it’s not because the kids are interested in becoming a pharmacist or a meteorologist or a teacher, but because that’s the dream their parents have for them.
Our kids are struggling enough. If we ask them to follow our dreams and the dreams we have for them, we’re doing them a disservice. And there’s a big cost involved in that.
“My child isn’t my easel to paint on nor my diamond to polish. My child isn’t my trophy to share with the world nor my badge of honor…My child is here to fumble, stumble, try, and cry. Learn and mess up. Fail and try again. Listen to the beat of a drum faint to our adult ears. And dance to a song that revels in freedom. My task is to step aside…heal my own wounds. Fill my own bucket. And let my child fly.” – Shefali Tsabary
Of course parents dream for their children. From a very young age, we wonder who they will be when they grow up, what hobbies they’ll love, what job they’ll have. And because we love them, we wish the best for them. In our own heads, that means they have big, successful careers, they excel in the sport we loved as kids, and they fit perfectly into the mold that society has deemed “normal.”
But that’s not reality. And what is “normal,” anyway?
Each person on earth is a combination of 46 different chromosomes and trillions of cells. Add to that the lived experience of each human being and it’s easy to see that no two of us could possibly be the same. Every single person is unique and to push our own desires and wishes on our children, no matter how well-meaning, is harmful.
Success is holistic. It’s not about going to the right college or securing the right job. It’s about self-love, being part of a community, impacting others in a positive way, and being fulfilled.
Traditional schooling is like an assembly line of academics to make sure our kids meet or exceed the standards that society expects them to.
I recently interviewed Komal Shaw, educational consultant and thought leader, for the Education Evolution podcast. I asked her why too many parents are missing the boat on what’s best for their children. Why parents connect their egos to their parenting.
What Komal suggested is that because so many of us parents are unhappy in our careers, we’re going to work extra hard to ensure our children don’t go down the same path. We want our kids to be happy. We want them to be able to financially support themselves. And we surround ourselves with other parents who are in the same situation. As a result, we feel pressure and judgment from other parents in the community because if our kids aren’t conforming to what society expects, we must be doing something wrong as parents.
If our kids aren’t playing sports or getting all A’s or participating in student government or in honors-level classes, we’ve failed.
But when we put that kind of stress on our kids, the cost is their mental health.
“What drives the way we push our children is often fear that our kids are going to fail. And so how do we overcome that? What does that look like?” says Komal.
The answer is tools. Parents need support and tools to help them navigate this path. They need a school where the administration and teachers understand that every child is different–and then design a learning environment that demonstrates that. And they need a community of parents who are in the same situation.
Will you grieve that your child isn’t going down a traditional path? Absolutely. It feels scary and uncertain. But allowing your child to walk their own path is the only way to ensure that they come out the other end truly successful, in their own version of success.
Both my daughters are so uniquely different. And both struggled through school, for different reasons. To think that there’s ONE right path for kids to take is ridiculous, and it’s so refreshing to hear educational leaders talk about the why behind this.
It’s time to get more parents on board too.
You can listen in to my conversation with Komal below.