The One Question You Never Want to Hear from Students
Parents tell me that their kids are asking them far fewer questions than they used to ask their parents when they were growing up. There’s nothing scientific about this observation, but I tend to believe them.
Because kids today have a portable device. They can Google. They can YouTube.
I loved the questions my kids asked me as they grew up. I’m a teacher at heart, so discussing their questions was a highlight for me, especially during their teen years.
There is one question, however, none of us want to hear our students ask.
The Latest in the Story of the College Admissions Scandal
Recently, actress Felicity Huffman made headlines as she appeared before a judge for sentencing. She was one of dozens of parents who were arrested for paying bribes so that their children could get into a notable university.
Ms. Huffman wrote a note to the judge prior to sentencing.
In it, she said, “Please let me be very clear. I know there is no justification for what I have done… I could have said ‘no’ to cheating on the S.A.T. scores…”
“I kept asking myself, why did I do this?” she added. “Why did I say yes to a scheme of breaking the law and compromising my integrity? What interior forces drove me to do it? How could I abandon my moral compass and common sense?”
Here’s the clincher.
“In my desperation to be a good mother, I talked myself into believing that all I was doing was giving my daughter a fair shot,” Huffman said. “I see the irony in that statement now because what I have done is the opposite of fair… as warped as it sounds now, I honestly began to feel that maybe I would be a bad mother if I didn’t do what Mr. Singer was suggesting.”
The Damage We Cause When We Snowplow
Wow. This illustrates the new “report card” too many parents feel they’re being evaluated by today. We feel we must give our children every advantage, even if it’s unethical or biased. We feel we must negotiate, even manipulate the system because our kids deserve it. This notion coerces us to be the proverbial “snowplow parent,” pushing every hindrance out of the way and paving the way for our children. It represents short-term thinking, not long-term thinking.
Then, Felicity Huffman went on.
“From the moment my children were born, I was worried that they got me as a mother. I so desperately wanted to do right and was so deathly afraid of doing it wrong. My own fears and lack of confidence… often made me feel insecure. When my daughter looked at me and asked with tears streaming down her face, ‘Why didn’t you believe in me? Why didn’t you think I could do it on my own?’ I had no adequate answer for her. I could only say, ‘I am sorry.’”
Did you catch the question her daughter asked?
Why didn’t you believe in me?
It’s the question none of us want a kid to ask us. Yet, it’s the question too many of them ponder. The way we supervise, mandate, remind and prescribe their daily lives, we can come across like we really don’t think they can do things on their own. When they make one mistake, we take over, further confirming they need us to survive. We feel the stakes are too high regarding their test scores, their game time, and even their discretionary time. Far too frequently, we’ve actually added to their stress, as they feel that they can’t measure up and that we don’t really believe they can get through young adulthood on their own.
Let’s make a resolution. Even when we believe we must intervene in our students’ lives, let’s commit ourselves to ensure that they will never, ever wonder if we believe in them.
New Book: Generation Z Unfiltered
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Our new book is now available for preorder! This generation of students who have grown up in the 21st century are the most social, the most empowered, and also the most anxious youth population in human history. If you are struggling to connect with and lead them, you are not alone. The latest research presented in this book, however, illuminates a surprising reality: The success of the next generation doesn’t depend entirely on them. Their best chance of success starts when adults choose to believe in them, challenge them, and walk with them through the nine greatest challenges today’s youth will face. For their sake, and for the future success of our world, it’s time we started seeing Generation Z—unfiltered.
From decades of research and hands-on experience, Dr. Tim Elmore and Andrew McPeak collate their conclusions into one resource that helps adults:
- Understand the differences between Generation Z and previous generations – including the Millennials (Generation Y)
- Discover the nine unique challenges that Generation Z is currently facing and how you can help them practically address each one
- Develop coping skills in students to help them overcome their high levels of stress and anxiety
- Cultivate grit and resilience in young adults that will allow them to bounce back from future setbacks
- Apply proven, research-based strategies to equip teens and young adults to reach their potential