I've worked with a lot of moms over the years and it is undeniable the influence they have over the lives of their children. I took some time thinking about which mom stood-out the most of the many that I've worked with. Then I think back to the very first mom I have ever worked with...my mom. When I refused my mom's initial suggestion into entering the priesthood at seminary school (she really tried!), she gracefully pivoted her hopes into getting me to a decent college that we all could afford. I think she did a fantastic job sending all six of us to college. I want to outline some of her traits that I feel made her, and some of the other moms that I have seen, successful with college planning.
1. Mom did not limit her children. I am always surprised when I hear of parents that have everything "lined-up" for their kids, with the type of career they should have or the spouse they should marry. With the exception of priesthood, my mother never intermingled her aspirations and dreams with mine. She always encouraged all of us to follow our own interests and choose our own paths in life. I have found that when students are engaged (with the right guidance) in their own college planning, success tends to follow. My Mom had high expectations but she also counted on us to find our own way. She always made us feel that we could do anything we set our minds to and that we could be successful with hard work, dedication and integrity.
2. Mom planned early. My Mom didn't wait until my junior year of high school to teach us that good grades were important. As long as I could remember, we just got good grades because it was our job to get good grades. We weren't incentivized like other students with money or toys. We were taught that learning was important and fun at a young age. I'll never forget when I got an envelope for Christmas when I was around 8 years old. What 8 year old wants an envelope for Christmas? Inside the envelope was a certificate that my Mom had started a prepaid college account for me. I casually tossed the envelope aside in search of more toys. I would never understand the full scope of her sacrifice and commitment of that gift until decades later. Suffice to say, the most successful families I work with are the ones that plan early.
3. Mom was always present. She wasn't a "helicopter" parent by any means. Despite working overtime at the post office, she always managed to make every award ceremony, school play, concert and parent-teacher conference. I never spent a moment disappointed or worried that she wouldn't be there. It's not an issue of always being there in proximity. It was more than that. She was engaged as a parent. It's a very subjective quality that is very difficult to define, but she had it. I saw evidence of this recently looking at old scrapbooks when I visited her recently. I was amazed at how she carefully archived just about every award and certificate that we amassed over the years. I don't know how she found the time. I don't know how she did it. I am just glad she did. Though I cannot fully describe this trait, I know it when I see it in other moms. In those situations, success is just about guaranteed.
To the original college planner, my mom. Happy Mother's Day!