On the heels of Operation Varsity Blues, I have to admit I’ve yet to unpack all the layers of why this situation makes me so sick to my stomach. I’ve written about Lawnmower Parenting’s impact on athletics. But never did I anticipate that parents would go so far as to have their children pose for photos and submit applications on their behalf photoshopping their bodies on athletes bodies to falsify college applications.
Why did these parents feel justified buying their children’s way into these specific schools? The explanation will never be logical for most of us because we see the big picture.
We understand that these students had many other options for higher education. They could have done what most people do. They could have attended junior colleges, or taken a gap year, or applied to colleges with less rigid educational standards.
We understand that there was no need to lie, cheat, bribe, their child’s way into college. Especially when those children didn’t seem to even want to attend college classes. It wasn’t about getting into college; it was about portraying an image. And that’s where we can all pause and self-reflect, because this really terrible choice did not start with a decision to break the law.
While we may not be willing to pay someone to change our child’s SAT exam results, there are many other ways parents try to give their child a leg up.
Have You Ever:
- Let your child stay home “sick” so they could avoid taking a test?
- Finished a challenging homework for your student?
- Complained to a teacher that their assignments or tests were unfair when your child received a low grade and asked them to change the grade?
- Justified your child’s poor behavior even though you would never consider it acceptable for anyone else?
- Covered for your child with a coach when they skipped practice and lied about where they were?
All of these questions come from real life scenarios and are just the tip of the iceberg of experiences I’ve encountered with parents. And I can’t help think that these tiny compromises can escalate to bigger issues if left unchecked.
In a recent podcast, Jamie Ivey and Emily P. Freeman discuss raising teenagers. Emily explains that she has learned that one of the best things she can do for herself and her kids in the teen years is to learn to be okay even when her teens are not okay.
She goes on to explain that there is
Emily understands that her value is not determined by her child’s successes and failures. When they fail a test due to lack of preparation that is not her failure. When they have a conflict with a friend she does not need to insert herself into the scenario.
By choosing to be okay even when her kids are not okay Emily is summarizing how to avoid the next Operation Varsity Blues. While this isn’t always easy, it is the healthiest choice and allows teens to learns how to make decisions for themselves.
We all make mistakes. We all misjudge how well we prepared for something. We overcommit to too many things and run out of time to complete projects and we all have days where we behave poorly.
The difference is that as adults we are expected to clean up the messes we make, not have our parents clean them up for us. So when our kids enter the teen years instead of stepping in and fixing everything or teaching them how to cheat their way through life, what would happen if we stepped back, checked our emotions and instead coached our kids through problem-solving?
I’ll tell you one thing, you’re less likely to end up joining in on a fistfight between your child and another student and you are also a lot less likely to justify breaking the law and risking jail to make sure your child is happy. And that’s how you avoid the next Operation Varsity Blues.
Interested in a resource to help you shift your decision-making processes? Emily P. Freeman has written an excellent book titled The Next Right Thing that releases April 2nd! Pre-order today and you will not only get this amazing resource to offer perspective on decision making but you will also receive some amazing pre-order bonuses.
In life, most of the time we know we need to make a decision, but sometimes we need a little guidance as to how to process making a decision we are confident is correct. Emily P. Freeman’s book is a resource to help you with decisions in every area of life.
Oh and in case you are wondering yes I know of more than one parent who threatened a student on behalf of their child and one parent has been arrested for fighting…so far.