“I don’t think so. Thanks,” I replied. “What time will you be home tonight?”
“I should be home by 10:15 giving me plenty of time to do homework due tomorrow.”
My daughter was off again, trying to beat the clock, seemingly burning the candle at both ends. Each day, after school and weekends she either worked as cashier in our local grocery, privately tutored children or baby-sat someone’s children in town. In addition to her work schedule, was church choir practice once a week; teaching Sunday School to second graders, requiring some amount of preparation; involvement and responsibility in several school clubs, in which she held office in two; church youth group, an occasional night out, plus homework. In addition, she was still part of our family and held responsibilities here. Where would all this busy-ness lead?
I was proud of my daughter’s determination as she set goals for college; then graduate school to continue her education in her chosen field. These goals explain the work and activity schedules since she needed money to pay for upcoming educational expenses; and being active in clubs and extra curricular activities were also necessary to be accepted at her desired college choices.
Despite the amount of activities she chose to involve herself in, her father and I expected her to keep her grades above average even though this added “requirement” increased the stress level. There were times when her normal sunny, pleasant personality turned gray and grumpy. Sometimes her “alternate personality” lasted for several days.
Once she began college, I knew her schedule would probably be even more hectic and rugged. Was this really how it should be? Was this level of activity and the stress involved, healthy? Do we teach our children to set goals so high they forget to take time for themselves? How do we help them keep it balanced?
She never complained about her schedule, but it did take its toll. She was tired; bone tired. That explained the change in personality. Yet I wondered if perhaps this could be a good thing. At least when she was busy and working, she wasn’t bored or anxious to try drugs or engage in other immoral acts.
So I tried to embrace her energy; her drive and chose to support her decisions. When she needed me most, I wanted to be there. There were days when I was “tired for her” and wanted to say, “Slow down. You’re going way to fast. You’re going to burn out!” Would she have listened? Probably not.
My own “drive” at that age wasn’t nearly as intense as what I saw in my daughter. In my time, there were girls who pursued college and careers. Many girls, however, wanted nothing more than marriage and family. Times have changed. Girls are now encouraged as strongly as boys to follow their dreams. We teach them at a young age they can be anything they want to be. They are smart and have potential, so they should give it all they’ve got!
Perhaps it’s wrong to be overly concerned about how hard our young people push themselves. Maybe this active life they’ve chosen is good for them. They’re challenged and most of them are meeting the challenge, hands down! My daughter, like the hundreds of other young, talented, ambitious students who choose to drive themselves to their maximum level, will meet their goals. Ultimately, it’s these young people who will govern our nation someday; and they’ll be ready because they choose to be. What more could a parent ask?