The effect of parental influence

February 8, 2013
By: Dan Davis

I have a 14-year-old who's a freshman in high school this year. He's already 4 inches taller than I am and possesses more knowledge about Civil War history than I have after 44 years on this earth—with all of my schooling taking place in the South where the Civil War is still recalled almost every day. He's growing up fast, and his interests are pretty evident.

Recently when it came time to register for classes for the 2013-2014 school year, we had to have a little discussion. My wife, my son, and I all agree that he should take another year of Spanish and stick with band. He enjoys both, and the skills are something he can use the rest of his life. However, it doesn't leave much wiggle room for electives.

My son wants to take an honors-level history course. My wife and I want him to try introduction to engineering. That's when the 10-Minute War for Education Destiny ensued.

Engineering and math are not subjects that most people of any age embrace. Let's just include my son and me in that camp. My wife is a math teacher, which just goes to show you that sometimes even having a very positive direct influence on a child's life doesn't guarantee a certain outcome.

During the conversation, I completely understood where my son was coming from. My parents pretty much let me choose my own academic path—all the way through college. On the other hand, my wife had to major in something that would make her "employable," according to the rules set up by her parents, who were paying for her college education. Let's just say that we're probably following the latter path with our own children.

I know that jobs will be available in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields when my son finishes his schooling. He may not stay in any of those fields, but at least we can put him on the right path and get him out of the basement. I also know that college costs continue to climb. If we are going to help pay for our children's college education, we need to make sure we get some kind of return on investment.

The 10-Minute War finally ended with no major injuries. We're going to pay to have my son take the honors history course during the summer, freeing up the period so he can take the engineering class. We told him that we'll see how things go; we're not totally unreasonable.

Meanwhile, my 11-year-old daughter is hearing this entire conversation. I'm anticipating a 10-Day War for Academic Destiny in about three years followed by a four-year Cold War. Ain't parenting fun?
Dan Davis

Dan Davis

FMA Communications Inc.
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Elgin, IL 60123
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