by Dr. Sandy Gluckman
Ego can be a good thing—in the right proportions, at the right time, and balanced with information and logic. But when our egos take control, disregarding reason and good judgment, this can lead to all kinds of problems for ourselves and for others. When it comes to Moms and Dads, many things can ignite their egos, but none are as powerful as the subject of college prep. Oh my goodness! College prep makes ego go wild. Why does this happen—and what can parents can do differently?
College selection and prep triggers personal, societal and emotional issues for parents. This is understandable because vital decisions are being made about their children’s futures. Where will they go? What will they study? Will they be accepted? Will they be happy? Will they be safe? Will they be successful?
Parents need to be sure that they are dealing with this exciting and scary time in a balanced and thoughtful way. This is hugely important because ego-based decisions have a high chance of being poor decisions.
When it comes to ego, I totally understand the pride and joy a parent feels when her child is accepted at a prestigious college. What a great feeling that is! I understand why parents would encourage a child to study in a field that would give him status and help him earn well. I understand the fact that many parents hire tutors to ensure that their son or daughter achieves the necessary grades. And, being a parent myself, I do realize the pull that parents feel to help their kids complete the mounds of paperwork, write their college entrance essays and take them to visit (Mom’s and Dad’s) preferred colleges.
Of course, I understand this all. But there are two critically important questions we need to consider:
Why do parents do this?
Are they doing this because they believe their child (who is already a young adult) is not capable of making his own decisions and does not know what he wants for himself? Or are parents doing this because they are (unconsciously) living out their own dreams?
Is it right for the child?
How do parents know what is best for the child? Do they have a sound knowledge and understanding of their child’s strengths and lesser strengths? Do they understand the way their child’s brain naturally likes to think? Do they know what’s in their child’s heart?
In order to help our children make the right decision and bypass our own ego,
we need to consider the best fit for our kids.
The Child-College Fit
Sending your child to a college that is the right fit for him is probably one of the most important things a parent can ever do. Children who attend a college that is academically or socially a mismatch for who they are, can experience huge stress, which then triggers emotional, social or physical problems.
The Child-Career Fit. Is your child left-brain or right-brain dominant?
Encouraging or supporting a choice of career that is not right for the child can have great negative consequences on many levels. Too often, parents and kids select a career that sounds nice or seems to be a good logical choice or select a career that they imagine would be right for them. When helping your children choose a career, one of the most important things you need to know about them is whether they are left-brain or right-brain dominant.
Every one of us is born with a tendency to prefer the left or the right brain. This means that your children have one side of the brain that they enjoy using more than the other because thinking in that way comes naturally to them. (A small percentage of people use both sides equally.)
Left brainers are more comfortable being taught in a logical, rational, detailed, structured and ordered way. Right brainers prefer to be taught using creativity, stories, art, music and big picture thinking. Left brainers do well as accountants, civil engineers, lawyers, scientists and computer programmers, for example. Right-brain professions are those that use creativity, emotion and intuition, such as graphic design, teaching, marketing, sales and writing.
It is extremely stressful for a child to be studying something that does not match the way his or her brain naturally thinks and learns.
Find a job that matches the way your child’s brain likes to think and he will be happy, productive and successful in his career.
There is a Challenge
Moms and Dads are left-brain or right-brain dominant too. It can happen that left-brain parents encourage their kids to choose left-brain professions, and the same happens with right-brain parents. See our short questionnaire that will help you determine whether you are left or right-brain dominant.
Please be careful to understand and honor the way your child’s brain works. Remember, it may be different than yours!
Sandy Gluckman, PhD is a behavior and health specialist whose internationally acclaimed program, Parents Take Charge, introduces parents to drug-free options for treating children with learning, behavior and mood challenges, as well as teaches new ways of parenting.