Sitting in the office recently, I’ve been listening to the parents of some youngsters who have been getting their exam results in the past month or so. Without exception, the emphasis has been on them getting good grades, and what the parents can do to help if they’re not getting top marks. That included checking on progress throughout the year, checking homework, getting extra tuition, and “making the child work harder”. And the reason for this? So the child can go to University, study for more years, and get a good job at the end of their studies.
On the face of it, wanting your child to do well at school seems like a laudable thing. We all want the best for those in our care after all, don’t we?
But here’s the thing. For those in their mid to late teens not all are gifted academically. Not all are driven and ambitious. Not everyone knows what they want to be when they grow up. And do you know what? That’s not a bad thing. Radical I know, but I’ll say it again: it’s not a bad thing. And here’s why.
We will always need tradesmen, craftsmen, florists, shop workers, mechanics, cleaners, refuse collectors, bakers, butchers and the like. Why do these people need to spend three or four years of their life at further education what they want to do is build houses, create bouquets, cut hair etc?
In many respects, builders, plumbers, electricians etc have pretty much guaranteed income for their whole working life if they are reliable and capable. The same goes for hairdressers and mechanics, and lots of other trades besides. Without their skills and knowledge, without their abilities, it won’t matter how many degrees you have, chances are you’ll struggle to live in any kind of comfort.
Those who work with their hands are special, and we should nurture anyone who has an ability to do so. There’s an art to laying bricks, to cutting hair, to providing quality customer service: we shouldn’t take it for granted, and we certainly shouldn’t think such jobs are beneath our children. They’re such a vital part of our society, to the extent that society wouldn’t exist without them.
Surely the most important thing for our offspring is to provide encouragement and support, love and understanding, irrespective of their academic achievements? Rather than burden them with expectation, be there for them, help with advice and guidance, and encourage them to follow the path that makes them happy. If they’re happy and content, chances are you will be too.