June 5, 2015


Ok, so I’m sure you are wondering why the HELL would anyone not want their children to do well in school. Relax relax, I’m going to break down why you shouldn’t do regarding your children’s future, what you SHOULD do and what gives me the authority on this subject matter.

First off let me explain my background. I’m 1st generation American. My parents are from Guyana in South America and not only am I bi-cultural but I pay very close attention and study both West Indian Culture & American Culture. Growing up exposed to both cultures allowed me the opportunity to take the best of both cultures and leave behind the “not so best” of both cultures. So this might be when you want to grab a cup of coffee or a cocktail {I won’t judge} buckle up and get ready for a ride through the bi-cultural dynamic of growing up West Indian in the home and American in public.

What I always heard growing up is, “get good grades, get good grades” or “only A’S in this house, nothing less” I heard that message clearly {not to mention often} so there was a good understanding that my parents had a very high value on education & grades.

What was unclear is what do I do after I get the good grades, what do I do with the good grades, and where will the good grades get me. That message in itself wasn’t very clear. And as adult thinking about having children I started to realize I don’t know if my parents knew what I was supposed to do with these great grades as well. I realized this message translated into “do your best” & “put your best foot forward”. But I ’m here to tell you that "good grades" are not enough in America. I learned about the American way from my American peers. I started observing the way did things, what their parents were showing and instilling in them and used that to figure it out. I am here to share all of that information with you.  Expecting your child to have a good future because of their grades doesn’t exist in America. Let me break down what DOES matter in for a successful future in America.

Growing up West Indian, there i a concentration on academics that many times when a child expresses interest in extra curricular activities such as football {soccer}, band, dance, karate or cheerleading, parents will say to them “Concentrate on your studies” I’m going to assume you want your child to achieve the best of the best, get accepted to a great university and be on their way to a great career. I’m here to tell you, you have to make some edits. If this is the case, please understand that you are setting your child up for failure. The students who are getting accepted into Colleges & Universities have participated in a myriad of extra curricular activities. Growing up I participated in Pop Warner Cheerleading, the Dance Team, Ice Skating as well as Gymnastics. I also became a life guard & swim instructor when I was 16 years old. All of theses things helped me in college. I ended up spending 4 years on the dance team, Life Guarding on Campus at my University & I started teaching dance at a dance studio. My peers were also being encouraged to participate in activities unrelated to academics and they were being pushed and highly encouraged by their parents. It's a part of American Culture to juggle many interests and responsibilities. If you look at the most successful professionals in America extra curricular activities were a part of their child hood & academic career. You see, these institutions want to see that your child is well rounded. They want to see that your child can function in a group. Universities like extra curricular activities because it shows your child has the ability to work in a group, set goals, attempt to achieve them, follow through on commitments and most of all maintain balance. The ability to balance their academics with their extra curricular activities is of high value for Universities & Companies. You see the truth is when you start your career companies want to see that you can handle your job responsibilities as well as your personal life. Companies also have a myriad of affiliations, programs and departments so they want to hire people who can contribute to them all. If your child shows up to a university only having a great report card they will not be impressed. Your child’s competition will not only have great grades but a resume jam packed with labels such as Captain Of The Football Team, 2 Metals From Regional Dance Championship, 3 Years On The Debate Team & 2 Years Of Model UN. You have to understand these activities are instrumental to your child’s future. Not just to impress Universities but for them to build character, personality & confidence.

Speaking of character & personality this is another instrumental part of your childs future. I noticed that my peers lived in a home where their characters and personality was celebrated giving them confidence in who they are and relishing within that dynamic. I was very talkative, comical, passionate, intrigued by animals & creative as a child. My mother allowed me to be me, she never said stop talking so much, you are being too silly, leave those dirty animals alone, or what is all this crazy stuff you are making and collecting. She allowed me to me and which allowed me to grow into my personality with confidence. By the time I went to college I was very confident and sure with who I am. This assisted me to not fall prey to peer pressure among other temptations. Don't be afraid of your child "standing out" or being "different". The people who have made big change in the world or their community have been those who stand out. Don't rob your child of those possibilities. Pay attention to who your child is, notice their personalities and help them develop it. Try to highlight their nuances. If they are funny let them know, if they are opinionated or outspoken encourage it, If they are very organized help them maintain it, if they are into fashion let them explore it further. Your child knowing and understanding their personality will help them make better decisions and assert confidence when doing so. When they know who they are it will make it easier to explain who they are, their capabilities & skill set to others. So don’t cheat your child, don’t try to curb the personality traits based on who you want them to be or from fear that it will inhibit their future. It’s completely the opposite, their unique traits will allow them to stand out and know where they actually do fit in. Many companies hire people based on their personality and how that individual compliments the company’s corporate culture. With that said make sure you assist that growth within your home so they can be the best version of them once they are out into the world. 

This leads me into the conversation about Intellect & Culture. When I went to college it was amazing how much my experiences & conversations actually translated into opportunities. Due to my mother working at the UN, I grew up knowing about many different cultures which lead me to explore and want to continue to explore more about the many ways of living. I started to become attracted to people who were different from me, spoke different languages and had different customs. This exploration paid off well when I was in college because I was used to so many different types of people and ways of living it allowed me to connect with almost anyone. It taught me through all of our difference we are actually more a like than we are different. Having these experiences presented me with further opportunities which resulted in endless possibilities.  
They way you live will actually directly reflect your child’s academic achievements, social circles & lifestyle choices. If you live a life of intellect & culture you wouldn’t have to tell your child to focus on their grades or academics. My peers who do well in life come from a home which values intellect & culture, it's a way of living within their home. Allow learning and growth to be apart of your  everyday lives. Have conversations with your child about history, politics, business, and sexuality for example. Allow them to debate you; allow them to state their opinion & ideals. After all, this is what you want them to do in college and on the job. These are the characteristics of highly successful people. High achievers are very open minded, exposed, leading them to be articulate, clear thinkers who enjoy intellectual experiences. But it starts with you as a parent. 
Your ability to live a life of intellect and growth will only rub off on your child. You have to be what you want your children to be. What you discuss and pay attention to as a parent will show your child what’s important to you. Take them to a Broadway play and learn the history of the play and actors. Start reading a new book together, and discuss your favorite characters & their personalities. You can use food as a way to teach them about geography. Try a new restaurant or recipe and discuss the country of origin and the culture of the people living there. Bring up one of the latest current events with your child and ask their opinion, what they think and why they think that way. Don’t impose your viewpoint of the subject matter on them, allow them to have their own ideals and show them that their opinions are valuable. Again, these are the characteristics of successful people, leaders & high achievers. In stead of telling them to “be great in school” show them how to “be great” all the time. It’s a lifestyle, not something reserved for the school house.

Here is a very important one. There is an aspect of West Indian culture which practices the concept of don’t ask people for favors, don’t let people know what you are doing, and don’t ask people intrusive questions. This is a major set back in West Indians who move to America. Networking is apart of American Culture. When I was in high school I noticed my peers having these conversation with their parents. In fact  their parents had already secured summer jobs & internships through their colleague and friends. some of my peers even belonged to networking groups such as Jack & Jill.  
This is when I started to realize, if you don’t network and exchange information with others, grades & college are damn near useless.  How will you get an internship, a new position, or a pay increase if you are not marketing yourself? Companies and recruitment companies pay a lot of money to have keynote speakers speak to their staff & employees about the most efficient ways to market themselves. Do you get what is going on? While you don’t want to discuss, share and ask for information {aka networking} the average American is doing it and companies are paying top dollar to teach their employees to be masters at self marketing & networking. If you don't get on the ball your child will be left behind. What good will their "good grades" do if no one is even aware that they are a good student. What can actually be done with their great football career if very few people know he's an amazing athlete. If you child like animals have them volunteer at an animal shelter or veterinarian hospital, if they are into music or theatre have them volunteer or work at a local theatre house or find out about theatre programs within your area. Talk to your colleagues, neighbors and friends. Let them know your childs interest and if they know of anyone who may be in need of their help. They may no of programs that can help further your c hills interest and hobbies. These are key factors in solidifying a future of success for your child.   Instead of telling your child for the 100th time to get good grades instead have a conversation about who they know, who are they socializing with, and how they can market themselves.

This is where everything ties in together. We know that in the USA the culture is a bit more individualistic that in the Caribbean & Latin America. This doesn't have to be seen as a negative difference. It's simply a difference and a differences which allows America to be the one of the world powers affording so many opportunities. This is also very instrumental to your child's future & success. The importance of your child having a strong sense of who they are & marketing themselves all builds the foundation for independence. Universities and Companies want to work with independent self-motivated people. Universities want to accept people who work well in a group while exhibiting leadership qualities while companies want to hire employees who are able to juggle many tasks at once while being self-initiative. Allowing your child the ability to assert themselves, and appropriate responsibilities in their life is instrumental to a successful future in America.

You are now equipped with what it takes to help your child have a well rounded resume for not only college but they're future. It may be a lot of information all at once, but it's just what you need to get the conversation going with your family.   
If you  feel as if you need further information, direction & guidance. Check out my LIFE STYLING services & book a complimentary consultation. Learn more about me and my journey HERE. If you have any information, to add to the conversation and share let's help each other out in this journey. Share information in the comment section below.

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