We thank MUS parent Mrs. Karen Fesmire who forwarded this thoughtful piece from the Washington Post published earlier this summer after having just dropped off her recent MUS grad Witt at Vanderbilt University.
It comes from Dr. Chris Alexander, associate Dean and professor of political science at Davidson College. He offers some sage advice for parents to their children/students when it comes to offering room for growth, healthy perspectives on school, and framing short-term situations in context of the big picture. Much of what he says applies to MUS parents encouraging their sons to adjust to a competitive environment as the lads grow in wisdom and stature.
Here's a sample:
[Parents] can help them maintain balance in their lives: Invest in people, not just school work. Remember that success and happiness in life depend on relationships. College gives most young people their first chance to begin building independent selves that connect to others. Learning to do this well and joyously is more important than any grade they will earn.
And bestowing your perspective from a distance might be the best strategy. Because perspective requires distance. You can’t help your young person see the big picture if you become a character in it. You surrender your vantage point when you climb down into the details of their daily lives (emphasis ours).
You can’t remind them that the world will not end when they get a “C” on a paper if you spent hours on the phone helping them write it. You can’t give good advice about managing a conflict with a professor or a roommate if you’ve become part of the drama. You can’t help them make choices that will be wise in the long term if your own vision gets constrained by their short-term view.
Wise words, indeed. Trust your son and his teachers to help him help himself as he authors his own successful path through school. He'll thank you just like Witt thanks his mom and dad for letting him grow up through MUS as he prepares to tackle Vandy!