Lesson #387 in Parenting: Explain the Reason Behind “The End”

September 12, 2012

Posted By: Shaunescy

"Begin with the end in mind" (as the late Stephen Covey taught us) can be painfully dramatic when said "end" is suddenly within focus.  

We have been collectively working towards "an end" in our house.  Since our son was in his sophomore year, we have been gently preparing him for a time - this time - when the planning phase would end. And the execution phase would begin.

The seeds have been planted.

The seeds matured, grew and blossomed.

It was time to harvest.

Ultimately, any final decisions will be his, but since we - his wise parents - possess a wee bit more life experience - we assisted (read=strongly encouraged) the plan, based upon his interests with the goal of a debt-free degree.

After high school graduation, our son plans to attend Montana State University (his choice - but one we love!) - and God Willing - he will receive an ROTC (Reserve Office Training Corp) scholarship - which after his degree is earned, he will serve his country for 4+ years.

Following in his grandfather's and father's military footsteps.

Our reasoning to him is simple mathematics. All the years that we were suppose to be saving for college, we were simply trying to get by.

We raised a family, took vacations (mostly of the camping variety) when we could, bought groceries, put gas into our vehicles, and kept a roof over our heads.

There was never a time when we had "leftovers," and if we did, it went to school supplies, summer camps, or braces.

Last spring, we visited the ROTC office on the MSU campus to find out how to strategically plan our attack. To earn the ROTC scholarship, students need an ACT score of 25 or higher. {Of course, there is no guarantee of the scholarship, but an upper 20- something score sweetens the pot.}

I admit, my husband and I became mildly obsessive regarding this ACT score. We signed our son up for the local prep course and mapped out a test date. This had to work out for him.  It just had to.

I hounded him about studying, and his father said simply, "The result of this test could mean the difference of tens of thousands of dollars in college debt versus a free-ride."

Perhaps it was too much pressure. We certainly didn't mean for it to be.

On Sunday night - the day after the ACT test - we had an impromptu "family meeting" regarding the test, which we won't know the results for several weeks.

My son: Well, I feel good about the test, but if I don't get this scholarship, my life is over.

I was standing at the sink, and I dropped the half-washed coffee mug from my hands - I was gobsmacked.

Me: What???

My son: If I don't get this scholarship my life is over.

Me: Honey, by no means is your "life over" if you don't get the scholarship. We'll move to Plan B.

My son: But we don't have a Plan B.

Me: {Sighing heavily} Well, we'll figure one out. The bottom line is, dad and I know if you can go to college and not have to worry about repaying student loans it will ease your mind, allowing you to focus on your education. The scholarship is the easy route, but there are other ways.

My son: Okay.

I could sense relief in him, which made me feel awful. I didn't want him to think that was the ONLY answer. It was an answer, and one we thought would be the easiest for him, but in our haste, we didn't explain that part. We just pushed along as if Plan A was writ in stone.

Lesson #387 in Parenting: 

When you "begin with the end in mind" make sure you explain exactly why you chose that particular "end." Oftentimes, we get so caught up in the planning - and how to reach the end goal - we forget to explain WHY that goal is the best option (and in this case) the more economical option, but most certainly is not the ONLY option.

{To be continued...}

Mother of three,  Katie Walters is the author of  An Authentic Life , a member of BlogHer.com  and is proudly invited to share weekly within the pages of Montana Parent Magazine's website.

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