The Road Before Them

Highway Overhead Shot at Night

Parenting today has become more difficult than ever before.  American parents have lived in fear for their child’s safety since that first picture was printed on a milk carton. As a result, gone are the days when a parent would open the front door and say, “Go outside and play, just be home for dinner.” Do you remember that?  I do.  There were no cell phones for keeping in touch or GPS devices for tracking.  Off we went into our neighborhoods, vacant lots, parks, or malls.

We hung out with friends, we fought, we played made-up games and argued over the rules, always working together to come up with creative solutions to move the game forward.  We never turned to our parents to solve our problems or to settle our arguments; we negotiated those matters on our own. No adult intervention necessary.

Research suggests that because of the freedom we had growing up, which included the freedom to do some foolish things that necessitated taking responsibility for our actions, we became capable problem solvers and resilient individuals. L. Todd Rose, a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and author of the autobiographical book, Square Peg, states that resilience “…is not, in fact, an inborn trait, … but rather the product of a complex system involving a positive feedback loop, in which a child becomes strong, at least in part due to other people’s belief in him.”  When our parents encouraged us to go out and play, they unintentionally let us know that they believed in our ability to be responsible, that we were capable of solving our own problems, and that we were smart enough to know what to do should an unexpected challenge occur.  They believed in us, but more importantly, we knew that they believed in us.

To quote Bob Dylan, “…the time’s they are a changin’”.

Julie Lythcott-Haims is the former dean of freshmen students for Stanford University. In her book How to Raise an Adult, she shares that in the late 1990’s, the first Millennial generation began going off to college and that she and her colleagues noticed a new phenomenon: parents, both virtually and literally, on the college campus.  More and more parents were seeking opportunities, making decisions, and problem solving for their sons and daughters. Things that college-aged students once successfully did for themselves.
I remember sleeping overnight in line on my college campus to register for classes. In those days, the best way to get the classes we wanted or needed was to spend the night in line so that we could register first thing in the morning while seats were still available.  Under the same circumstances, many of today’s parents would spend the night in line for their college-aged children.
Lythcott-Haims observed that there was a time in America when parents strove to prepare their children for the road before them.  Today, more and more parents strive to prepare the road for their children, sometimes going to extremes to make certain that there are no speed bumps or pot holes because of their fear of what may happen should their child encounter any obstacles in their path. In doing so, they are preventing their children from life experiences in which they will have the opportunity to learn and grow. As the great educational philosopher John Dewey stated, “Education is not a preparation for life, education is life itself.”   If we deny our children the opportunity to experience life, the good and the not so good, we are denying them a very significant part of their education, which is the wisdom that comes with life experience.

There is no perfect formula for child rearing, but we do know that when it comes to developing capable human beings, we must love our children enough to allow them to fall down, skin their knees, be disappointed, and yes, experience failure.  In doing so, we don’t need to lecture or scold them. A simple “I hope you do better next time” is all that is necessary when a child comes home complaining about having to retake Algebra in summer school due to a failed grade. 

As a lecturer once said during a presentation I attended, “the process of weaning is never easy, for the wean-e or the wean-or.” 

But it’s necessary for the survival of our children.  Developing creative individuals, critical thinkers, problem solvers, and resilient human beings requires allowing our children to experience a certain degree of challenge, frustration, hardship, disappointment, and ultimately failure. 

Most children today are far more sophisticated then we were at their stage of life.  But few are as mature as we were at the same developmental level.  Maturation comes from experience, problem solving, and surviving challenges, disappointments and failures.  That’s why we often hear of extremely successful entrepreneurs speaking of the challenges they had growing up, or the school challenges they faced as a result of some type of learning difference.  They grew and matured as a result of successfully overcoming, and learning from, adversities in their lives.

I’ve never met a parent who doesn’t want the best for their child.  As a parent myself, I clearly understand the pain we suffer when we see our child struggle, experience disappointment, or fail.  I believe that we’d have happier and more resilient children if we returned to the days of striving to prepare our children for the road ahead instead of preparing the road for our child.


Hawaiʻi robotics team ranks 5th in the world

Assets Robotics Team Waffles ranked in the top five teams in the world for this week, according to FIRST Tech Challenge. They beat out teams from New York, Florida, Australia and Canada.

Assets Launches its First Middle School Robotics Team

This robotics program is geared towards students nine to sixteen years old and teaches them to program, build, and work with a team while having fun and exploring the world of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). 

Happy Anniversary Sandi and Darlene

Congratulations to Assistant Head of School and Director of Admissions Sandi Tadaki and Director of Professional Development and Outreach Darlene Robertson on their 40th Anniversaries with Assets School.

Ryan and Kanoe Gibson

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Announcing Assets' TV Show

Assets is producing a one-hour television show: “Assets School-Celebrating 65 Years of Transforming Lives.” 

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, April 14th at 8 p.m. on K5, Saturday, April 17th at 6 p.m. on KGMB-TV (CBS) and Sunday, April 18th at 4 p.m. on KHNL-TV (NBC).

Assets School Donates 1,254 Pounds of Food

Assets School's community of #GreatMinds collected 1,254 pounds of food and $300, which was donated to the Hawaii Foodbank for Assets School's first Giving Back Tuesday.

Message from Hawaiian Studies Teacher Mele-Aina Wood

Hawaiian Studies teacher Mele-Aina Wood shares how important it is to pay it forward because someday those children, who have benefitted from your generosity, will be the ones giving back:

Robot-assisted Graduation 2020

Special times called for special measures. Thanks to Assets' Robotics Coach, Peter Han, our #greatminds had one of the most unique graduation ceremonies that included a Diploma Robot!

Highway Overhead Shot at Night

Research suggests that because of the freedom we had growing up, which included the freedom to do some foolish things that necessitated taking responsibility for our actions, we became capable problem solvers and resilient individuals.