Written By: Ginger and Ray Klein, of Project Reasons Board of Directors
Regardless of the environment in a given home, American society is replete with competition and messages that your teen must be the best. Further, often we as schools and parents have defined the “best” for children already: Straight A’s, Honor Roll, Valedictorian, Student Council, National Honor Society and other things that colleges will be looking for. Sports are a must, and 3 or 4 years of Foreign Language and other curriculum that will place you in the best position to be admitted to a competitive university where you can be the best (again) at a litany of new (and yet the same) things. I, too, am a parent in this society. My own children as 15-17 year olds participated in blended high school/college programs that will save them 1.5-2 years of college tuition but which ushered them into adult communication with professors who, have expectations set for adult students rather than 15-17 year old youth, and rightly so…this is college after all. I am not denying the benefit of such programs for the teens in them, merely making the point that the pressure on our teens is ever increasing over time.
Children are born into a world that pushes them into competitive careers by well-meaning schools and often parents who are preparing them to support themselves as adults. Surely it is necessary that children learn and try to perfect skills that are conducive to their development into self-reliant adults. I am not advocating that we do not encourage our children to be the best they can be, but rather I wish to challenge our thinking on what is “the best.” Every person has the task of shaping angels with the raw mate