My mother, Expectations, Parenting, and Success

If you know me, you know I usually speak with great reverence about my grandparents. They did everything in their power to “set me up to win” and I appreciate them more and more every day. However there was one miscalculation in which I’ve made it a point not to repeat as a parent. They expected me to live up to the standards my mother had set before me.

This may not sound like a big deal but let me tell you about my mother. Wanda Yvonne Davison was a consistent 4.0 student. She was clever, bright and intitutive. She graduated high school and college with honors (getting her degree in music). She loved kids, taught music at Leslie Elementary School, and was the choir director of the youth choir at her church. Though I never met her – her angelic presence was alive in our household as you can probably imagine.

The problem was this – I was different. I was never a great student. I never saw a 3.0 ‘till college. I took piano lesson from 8 to 17 years of age and hated every second of it. I didn’t particularly like singing in the children’s choir nor did I have any desire to play the piano for the choir. My grandparents felt I wasn’t applying myself 100 percent and I always felt like an underachiever. After all: I was Wanda’s son; and I was supposed to be smart like her, and play piano like her.

I remember trying to avoid applying for the one thousand dollar scholarship my church gave out every year. My mother had grown up in the same church and I was too embarrassed to show anyone my high school transcripts. I graduated with a 2.0 overall.

College was the turnaround. I learned I was good at writing, I was good a public speaking, I was good at organizing people, and I was extremely creative. I was encouraged to explore the job opportunities in all these areas by my college professors. But what dumfounded me – was why all these things were never seen or encouraged by my grandparents or my high school teachers.

The point here is that my children are raised to be themselves. None have my first name and I don’t expect any of them to take an interest to photography, public speaking, poetry, or writing. If they do- great! But there are no pre-existing expectations other than trying your best and not being closed minded to new things. They have been exposed to everything (theatre, dance, all sports, music, drawing, etc..) because my wife and I have no idea what they will like, what they will be good at, what will come natural to them. Even if they pick up something like drawing (for example); it may not develop into a career but they will have an outlet, a creative way to express themselves, a plesant hobby, a way to make side money maybe and the list goes on and on.

You know I don’t blame my grandparents for anything. My mother was the adult they wanted me to grow up to be. My mother had died and I was the only piece of her left. How could they not see me in her? How could they not want me to succeed in the same ways she succeeded? It’s understandable. I was raised in a positive and enriching environment. But as a parent now – I understand that if I want to put my children in the best position to win: there are some things I must do different than my grandparents.

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