Not being a parent makes me an especially keen observer of how others parent. It’s a great curiosity, like studying the behavior of a virus under a microscope, or visiting a completely foreign culture.
On a holiday visit to Boulder, I listened carefully to a friend advise her teenage daughter. The young woman’s finals were due to start the next day. She asked her mother whether she should study or go for a long bike ride with her friend. “What is in your own best interest?” the mom asked her daughter.
Wow, I thought. That is a brilliant response. The mom is not dictating to the girl, and even better, she is teaching the girl two important things: 1. Make up your own mind; 2. Learn how to do what is best for yourself. Both these lessons are a departure from the woman’s traditional role; both are necessary for the woman of the future to survive and thrive.
I recently left a teaching job in a junior college where the majority of young women were either single or expectant single mothers. Not only were they without basic writing skills, mostly illiterate in their own language (English), they were without the knowledge of how to succeed in college or the time and energy to do so. No one had ever asked them the simple question: What is in your own best interest?