Share on Google+

Homework Questions ... and more questions

Today's Serendipitations are full of questions.

While watching my children struggle with the pressures of classes and homework over the last few weeks of the school year, I got to wondering ... did I do that? do I still do that?

The days of worrying about getting reading done and papers finished or preparing for quizzes and exams are far behind me, yet when I watch my own children struggle with mastering some of the new skills they're learning, it does bring some of it back for me. How well do I handle stress and struggle in my own life and what skills have I learned that I can pass on?

Is it a universal thing, do you think? This pressure we place upon ourselves to finish a task or master a skill? Or do we pass it along through our genes?

As parents, we teach our children that good grades are important; that to always strive to do your best is important; that to never give up is important ... but … is it? Are we in fact teaching them to put themselves into a position where they experience the very things we do not want for them, in our effort to do our best?  Stress, pressure, unreasonable expectations, and the sense of failure and rejection that may come as a result of these stresses and pressure. Just a thought: What if we turn these mantras over on their heads?

Do we really want our children to never give up? What if, in fact, giving up is exactly what they should do? And for that matter, are we in fact suggesting that they "never fail" when we say that? Is that even possible? What are they hearing in the words?

Perhaps we are setting them up for the impossible: the idea that anyone who is human can actually make it through life never having failed anything. As adults we have the experience to back that up … it can't happen. Mistakes are the genetic material for a life of learning, growing and experiencing; they are the learning blocks that build our realities.

What about this kind of pressure is helpful to us? What would it be like to know that you could be helping them to build their character AND preparing them to face life's challenges with skill and confidence? To imagine that you are teaching them the life skills they'll need to handle rejection, stress and failure, because they will happen. In fact, they must happen.

What if these ideas could be turned around, looked at from a different angle, like a crystal or prism, and seen as necessary to a full and fascinating life? For example, are there times when you should give up; or when you should retreat; or when you can only go so far, and then … how can you learn to be successful while failing?

Have a question? Want to find out more about coaching? Check out my website:

Kate Ranney Sayle came to Nantucket with her parents and siblings in 1978. Since her days in the Nantucket Public Schools(1990 graduate of NHS) and college (1994 graduate of The George Washington University), Kate has devoted her life on Nantucket to family, friends and community, integrity, and professionalism.

She recently became a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, and started her coaching business Serendipity Coaching Enterprises. She hopes to fill what she sees as a societal need in the education of of teens and young adults, helping to empower, strengthen and champion them so that they may create for themselves the lives they want.



Here's a recent post from the NYTimes about children and competition that relates to this article, Kate: