Erin Stewart: Parents: Stop pushing your children to be the best

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  • junkgeek Agua Dulce, TX
    Aug. 28, 2014 12:01 p.m.

    The difference between ACT/SAT prep and no prep is the difference between, say, BYU and Weber State.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 9:05 a.m.

    This article is just common sense. No one is asking anyone to aim at mediocrity. By definition, no one can do better than their best; we can only improve on our previous best repeatedly. Everyone has a unique combination of talents so doing our best never results in same-ness or mediocrity.

    As a Latter-Day Saint I have found a lot of guidance from President Ezra Taft Benson's classic talk on Pride, in which competition is presented negatively; he said that when you remove competition pride disappears. You know E T Benson; he is not a socialist so he is not talking about a coercive social system.

    Yet few stop to consider that competition is man-made "virtue", not an element of LDS doctrine. Every time the Lord has had a Church on the earth he has attempted to get the people to adopt some kind of voluntary co-operative system economically. Economic competition is wasteful; 80 percent of small businesses fail and we wear ourselves out trying to eliminate the competition and create quasi-monopolies.

  • Z South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 12:39 p.m.

    There is a big difference between "Do your best" and "Be THE best." There can only be one 'Best' if we are looking at things as a competition. But more often than not, we frame things as competitions that really aren't. Most of the time, we can only measure our own progress against ourselves.

    So what sort of message do we send to our children if we mix up these two messages? "Do your best" allows for your own success, but also allows for the success of others. "Be THE best" does not.

    How many of you have worked for or with someone who had to be THE BEST? And where does that leave you?

  • bass679 Novi, MI
    Aug. 27, 2014 7:48 a.m.

    part 2:
    There's probably no real right answer, but the truth is, second place is never as good as first place. It isn't. But it also doesn't mean the kid is a failure. Self esteem matters, you need to believe in yourself to succeed but many folk of my generation were taught that it was the ONLY thing that mattered. Aiming for okay is not good enough and you're not doing your kid any favors. There's a middle ground between disowning the kid for getting a B and thinking "D's to degrees" is acceptable.

  • bass679 Novi, MI
    Aug. 27, 2014 7:41 a.m.

    So, I have mixed feelings about this stuff. I didn't do any of that prep stuff. My mom and I went to a seminar on it and they told me that they guaranteed a certain ACT score which was about 6 points below what I'd already received. So I don't put much stock in that stuff. On the other hand I grew up extremely poor and my mother taught me from a very young age that college and a good education was the only way to get out of poverty. As a result I worked my butt off to succeed.

    Back to the first hand, my wife is a private tutor. Most of her students don't need any help at all. They are at or above their grade level but their parents have an anxiety attack if they get a B on an assignment. Seriously, one of her students had a single non "A" paper last year in her advanced English class so her folks hired my wife to fix it.

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    Aug. 26, 2014 6:55 p.m.

    With American education sagging under the weight of entitled kids and lazy parents, with our jobs being shipped overseas to workers who are more qualified and willing to work for less money, the last thing we need is parents telling their kids to aim to be average.

    Erin, somewhere out there, right now, is a kid who's going to get a job instead of your kid at some time in the future. And that kid's parents aren't telling him/her that he/she should be shooting for that 50th percentile.