I am not going to tell you I am the authority for raising children. I will not tell you that these things I will address are the most important things in raising a child. What I will tell you are things that I firmly believe contribute to the long-term success of Children. Some of it will be controversial, some of it will make sense. and some you will be highly skeptical of depending on your situation on life.
I have been a single parent for nearly 12 years. I had 5 daughters. My last one home is Autistic and has numerous health problems. I am proud of the fact that she received a Regular Ed Diploma and passed the State High School Exam on the first try. Something that less than half of her graduating class did. But it was not easy getting the school District to TEACH my daughter in ways she could learn. It was a long and arduous fight but it was well worth it. The one thing I always insisted on was that I did not care about her grade s much as I cares about her self-esteem. I a pleased to say that to this day she understands her limitations (like her inability to brush her own hair because she lacks Spatial Skills) but is confident that she can do other things in her life.
Every Child should have this type of support from their parent(s). But rest assured I did not make excuses for ANY of my daughters if they failed because of their lack of trying or laziness. I would not try to get teaches to “cut them breaks” if the responsibility was actually my children’s. AS I told them all along you can do anything you want and dropout of school because places like McDonald’s will always need people to clean their bathrooms.
There is always a delicate balance of fighting to make sure your children have the tools to learn.. but not be rewarded for their own individual failures. If you let them get away with things in school they feel privileged to get away with things for the rest of their lives. Personal responsibility is a key ingredient in raising children.
The first time we went to Gym Class and had to Climb the rope few people made it… children need to be encouraged to try to exceed their self-imposed limitations. They need to be challenged.. and they need to have recreation time where they chose the recreation. But giving them a pass often can be damaging to their future. Never be afraid to ask for more from your child.. just do not demand.. and if they are swamped emotionally.. then help them through it.
I believe in Sports for children.. not every sport and every day but sports in competition with equally talented (or lack of talented) players. But it is something that every child should experience, I want them to learn what it is like to lose. To Fail at something. and then to get back on the field the next time and try again. I do not care if they never win as long as they try to I will praise them for trying. Same is true of other games like chess. we learn more from losing than we do from winning
Parents at home: This is a touchy topic. I support Single parents. I am one obviously. I have not been on a date in YEARS… not because I have not had the opportunity, but because my daughter need me more than I needed a date or a hookup. If you have a significant other in your life then that person should look for ways for you to be home more often with your children to be there for them in their growth and development. If you are a couple and can get by with less money even if there are no vacations or frills it is great if one person can stay home until the children are almost out of HS. If you have not instilled their values by then, there is little hope they will leave home and find good values later in life. It just does not work that way.
If you must live in the cheapest home in an area with a great school system I would suggest you do that. There is nothing like a quality K-12 education with supportive parent(s) to give them the best foundation to succeed in the future. NEVER push them into a career. It is their life let them decide and let them have the good bad and ugly side of every thing they may wish to do with their future.
If you child chooses a technical vocation, be happy for them. I cannot tell you how hard it is to find a good mechanic, or carpenter, or plumber etc. They are worth their weight in gold and can have very satisfying lives. With a good K-12 education behind them this will add to their ability to deal with an ever-changing world and be able to give their children a leg up in their future. You are not raising just your children but also your grandchildren and great-grandchildren in what you do when your children are young.
One of my daughter went to volunteer with Teach for America. She told me it was sad to see children who were never given the opportunity to envision a future like I had given them. When I asked her what she meant she said, “you never said to us “If you go to College…” it was always “When you go to college”” Strange, as I never even realized it…
I was the first in my family to ever graduate from High School and I eventually went way beyond that. So when my children had the choice of what to do after High School they had the ability to go to college if they wanted or do something else. Once you have that basic foundation no one can take that away from you.
When my money was finally better than most I invested in private High School for one of my children, Public HS with an International Baccalaureate program for another and a Gifted Middle school for one of them even those she was borderline I would rather her get c’s in a hard program than a’s in a basic gut program that would have left her unchallenged. Thank goodness none of the children were C students including the one with Autism. We alway tried to have the best education system for the children wherever we lived and I am very proud of giving them that foundation no matter what they do with it.
The only thing I might do differently is send them to Boarding School for High School. Phillips Exeter, or Phillips Andover type schools. I went to all Ivy League schools (It surprised me as well and is an interesting story for another time.. ) and met many students from these schools who had a much greater understanding of the world and cultures and such than most of the other students. I got more of an education from the students that surrounded me then I got in the classroom and believe me I received GREAT education inside the classroom as well. If you can somehow afford to send your children to these types of schools I strongly recommend doing so as the financial rewards and the enrichment of their minds and spirits is far superior to most any other education (in my opinion and my roots are of a blue-collar guy from South Philly) The most frequent argument against this program is that it makes them snobs… and I agree that about 10% of those graduates are unbearable arses…. but the others make it a network that cannot be beaten. To this day when I tell clients what my background is my education is a major selling point. They never asked me for my GPA.. only if I actually went there.. so never be afraid of being the worst of the best because you will always be considered by others to be the best.
Education and self-esteem go hand-in-hand if the child is supported and encouraged to try to NEVER ever punished or demeaned for failing if their effort was real.
Culture: I was reading today about Liberal Arts degrees being in High demand and make the best employees for many companies. One must wonder why as people think an undergraduate degree would have prepared you for the workplace…. Sorry but the vast majority of undergraduate degrees are only black box stamps that says you did something but you are not qualified for doing anything in particular. think of a buck private just out of boot camp. They are soldiers but not much more than a number for the military until they are trained for specialities.so goes most undergraduate degrees.
But why a liberal arts degree. A broad-based liberal arts degree is something I wish I had. It could have taught me more about art, and sociology, Anthropology, different cultures Music appreciation, and so so much more that would have been a new and greater foundation of a broad base of knowledge that would follow me anywhere. This “rounding” of a person makes them a better resource and gives them an ability to bond with many more types of people thus making a workplace more enjoyable.. and thus more productive.
In my travels around the world (over 70 countries and I am not finished yet) I listened to music in almost every country that was MADE in that country. went to local markets and ate at local establishment outside the hotel. I Learned words, phrases and much more in 9 languages and also in American Sign. I learned, understood and appreciated how the Japanese developed the word for thank you (Arigato) and why it is similar to the Portuguese word for thank you (Obrigado) and can share that as trivia that shows my interest in a global environment (which is where I mostly work) .
Education, knowledge, understanding, These are the building blocks for a child to become successful in whatever they want to do. Travel is better than books but when you cannot travel then never be afraid of the books.. and in many universities it helps to affiliate with the international clubs and organization if for no other reason than it is an educational experience that can serve you well in the future.
Remember my background I spoke of earlier .. I was never expected to go to college. I was the oldest of 5 and my parents had no ability to help me.. I always wanted to go to better schools and even started reading the Wall street journal in 10th grade which was NOT something my contemporaries did ever…..and I made many mistakes when I was younger. Yet somehow I found a way to get myself there ands as such realized in doing so how important it was and is for my children to get the best education available and experience as much of the world as possible as it opens new realms of existence for them.
If anyone reading this noticed that a week ago or so there were 8 kids who each got into ALL 8 Ivy league schools. the ONE thing they all had in common was they were the children of immigrants. For those that know people who have immigrated to this country you will know that one of the biggest and most important thing was that their children studied and achieved in school and they were very involved in the education of their children. Giving your child the opportunity to succeed is the best present you can give them after you have brought them into this world.
I said in the beginning I am not going to tell people HOW to raise their children,but I hope that for those starting out that they see the benefits of what I have said and giving their children the best foundation and the best opportunity to succeed in life.