Thursday, December 9, 2010

I Feel Guilty but Can't Stop Myself

Call this a "A Mother's Lament," sung in the key of guilt.

It's tough being a teen, and it's tough being parents who want the best for their children. By that, most parents mean a successful secondary education that can lead to many options for college and beyond. To most of us, "successful" implies great grades, superlative scores, extracurricular activities that demonstrate a passion beyond the classroom.

But there are days when I don't like myself: when I go on too long -- with a child who got it before I even raised whatever topic it was -- about some school-related subject. Or when I start obsessing (in silence) about PSATs and grades of a student who is conscientious and does make the effort.

Then I read about a new film, being shown almost exclusively at schools and community organizations. It's called "Race to Nowhere," and it looks at the question we're all grappling with. How do we maintain sanity and balance when kids are being pushed -- by schools, parents, coaches and their own inner drive -- to get into highly selective schools that may not even be suited to their interests and temperament.

The movie, by the way, was made by a mother who decided to start documenting kids' lives after her 12-year-old's stomachaches were diagnosed as being caused by school pressures.

I'd like to see "Race to Nowhere" but I am not sure what can be done about the pressures we're all guilty of placing on our children.

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