There are some forces in our society--some obvious, others completely hidden--that pull us toward trying to fix the world to accommodate our children. We get the vague sense that we should constantly arrange our children's world around them. Sometimes these pressures are obvious and easy to resist, but sometimes they're as subtle as our own good intentions.
As a teacher, I've been prevented from giving students failing grades on their report cards; even students who refused to do any work at all! I was told to pass them. In fact, I was expected to inflate grades for all students. As my former principal explained, "We don't want to hurt their feelings."
But the real world won't care squat about their feelings!
As a parent, I've had to literally drag my child, kicking and screaming, out of the toy aisles of our local Target. I had to feel other shoppers' eyes burning into the back of my head as we made the long walk (well, drag) to the door. It sure would have been easier to just buy him that $14.99 toy--but, I'm trying to prepare my child for the world.
THE APPROACHING HORIZON
Every day, I remind myself of the Time Horizon of Childhood; the fact that my children have 18 or 20 years to learn, test decisions, and experience consequences with me before they end up in the Real World. That's the time I have to prepare them for college and to teach them to be responsible adults. After that, I won't be able to give them what they want anymore, even if I want to. I won't be allowed to bend the rules for them. I probably won't even know how to do their work for them.
It's hard to remember that my itty-bitty children will soon be lumbering adolescents, who will then become adults. God-willing, they will actually spend 60+ years of their life without my direct influence and support. As much as I would love to protect them from bad decisions, heartaches, and challenges, I simply can't prepare the world for my children.
SO, HOW DO I PREPARE THEM FOR THE WORLD?
By holding them to high standards and giving them freedom to make some of their own decisions... now. By allowing them to experience consequences for their decisions. By teaching them how to listen, how to make decisions, how to learn, and how to manage their lives.
We also need to teach them the skills to meet those standards. These are the skills they will need to survive on their own. They are also the skills they will need to prepare for school, college, living on their own, and managing a home and career.
STUDY SKILLS ARE LIFE SKILLS
Yes, it all comes back to study skills. Understanding how to study strategically gave me the tools to learn how to succeed in school, build a business, and manage a family. Study skills allow me to make informed decisions. They give me the structure to get things done.
A few years ago my beloved hometown, Detroit, came to a grinding halt. Study skills prepared me to handle the world as it came crashing down. They allowed me to create my own living. I'm proud to say that Detroit is now rising from the ashes--but I was very fortunate to not be at the mercy of those external forces. I did not have to live in the fear that plagued nearly all of my neighbors during that unsettling time.
My parents taught me that you can learn your way out of nearly any problem. That lesson is what led me to discover study skills. If my parents had tried to prepare my world for me, my livelihood, happiness, and self-worth would always be at the mercy of politics, economics, and the direction of the wind on any given day.
But, as my dad once said, "I'd like to think I'm raising a young woman and two young men, not a little girl and two little boys." He and Mom clearly understood that they had to prepare us for the world.