Dd20 is now a college graduate!
Dd20 graduated a day before her twentieth birthday with a specialization in technical engineering/industrial design. At the graduation event, dd was called up to receive a certificate of excellence, which she was later surprised to find was accompanied by a generous check.
I got teary eyed during the speeches as the significance of this milestone sank in. Less than five years ago we moved from the US to Israel with a fifteen year old daughter who couldn’t speak Hebrew, who faced every challenge thrown at her with a good attitude and never gave up. And here she was, not only coping in an Israeli educational institution in a very challenging field but excelling.
Afterwards the head of her department came over to me to and told me that not only is dd the top student in their college, but she would have been the top student in the best university in Israel. She went on to detail the personality traits she based her statement on and asked me, “I honestly want to know – what is your recipe for raising a daughter like this?” I deflected the question and said that dd has had the main part of turning herself into an amazing person, but the department head told me that she has seen many, many students and she is convinced that how dd was raised is a big part of her success.
People have asked me how I raised my children to be high achievers. My honest response is that I didn’t actively set out to do this. The fact that my older kids have all excelled in the academic and work frameworks they’ve been in is a reflection of their personal motivation and work ethic. If they hadn’t excelled, I would think just as highly of them all. If they do their personal best then I see that as a success, regardless of how that compares with anyone else.
I tried to create a home environment in which their internal motivation had space to develop, where their unique personalities and gifts were recognized and supported. I didn’t have a personal agenda that I pushed on them. I didn’t give them the message that I needed them to succeed in a certain way to make me feel like a successful parent. Parenting isn’t supposed to be about me – it’s about helping my kids become who they are meant to be.
I’ve tried to communicate to them my deep belief in them without pressure to perform or produce. I trusted that they would all develop according to their own individual timelines, and to believe in their abilities and competence even when I didn’t yet see it. I encouraged them when they were unsure of themselves but didn’t push them to do what they didn’t yet feel ready to do.
It was important to me that they were hardworking and responsible – and they are – and those qualities have served them well. I wanted them to believe in themselves, to invest themselves fully in whatever learning or work experience they were involved in. And they have.
It was nice to be recognized as having had a part in dd’s success, but really this is her success, her hard work, her investment in herself and in everything she’s done. We are so, so proud of her!