“If I knew then what I know now … ”
I have a long list of things I could say at the end of that ellipses. I bet you do, too. It’s just a natural part of growing up and becoming an adult. You live, you learn.
For parents, you can apply what you learn – or try to – in how you guide your children. The hope is that they’ll have fewer things they can could say at the end of that ellipses. That can be tricky, though. Foreknowledge isn’t always one size fits all. You may have rued not learning how to play the piano, but your child may not have the same regret when he or she grows up. You may wish you’d gone to medical school, but your child’s heart and head may have another professional passion.
And yet there are some wisdoms that really are universal.
Our annual Education section in this month’s issue touches on one – adventure.
We get so caught up in checking a bunch of boxes – for ourselves and our kids – with our overall goal of “success” in mind. Get into the right school. Take the right classes. Earn high marks.
But along the way, we sometimes forget to live and really figure out what “success” means to us.
That’s an advantage students who take a gap year before entering college have. After 12 years of primary school, they get a chance to learn about themselves and the world beyond them. I can’t imagine it doesn’t have a huge impact on their future college years, career aspirations, values and confidence. But it sounds sort of lofty, right? Or, in America’s race-to-the-top culture, it can have the reputation of being sort flaky. Hardly! Find out why more American high school grads should do it – and why it’s more possible than you might think.
Another advocate for adventure is Rufus McGaugh, a retired Grosse Pointe social studies teacher who recently accomplished a notable goal – he visited every country in the world. It took him almost 50 years, but it’s never too late, right? Read what he learned along his travels and what advice he’d give to this generation of kids – and their parents.
They say your biggest regrets at the end of your life aren’t the things you do, but the things you didn’t do. That seems about right. Taking some time to reflect, grow and learn before diving into your college career or making a lifelong commitment to travel and increasing your world knowledge or just generally having a more adventurous spirit in the way you approach education – what’s to regret there? Not nearly as much as what could be gained.