Hello from beautiful Missoula, Montana. I recently was impressed with this answer on Quora and asked permission to share it with you. Please leave a comment about what parenting advice you ignored? Are you glad or annoyed at yourself for ignoring the advice?
My junior year of college, I received another perfect report card. Straight As.
The next time I went home to visit, I brought it with me, excited to show my parents. In high school, I was a straight C student at best. I struggled tremendously and really didn’t care about academics. In college, I was finally taking a few classes that I liked, and I felt motivated to excel. I had never done better in school.
We were sitting at the table in our sunroom when I pulled out the report card and showed it to my dad. My dad always did very well in school. Went on to have one of the most lucrative spine fellowships in the country. Studied under a handful of exceedingly successful surgeons. And now, my father is one of the most well-known spine surgeons in the US.
He looked at my paper up and down. I waited with baited breath for the four words any and every child wants to hear from one of their parents. I’m proud of you.
Instead, he handed the piece of paper back to me and said, “Just think, Cole. All these straight As and you could have gone to medical school.”
…I had chosen to study creative writing instead.
I was raised in an extremely artistic household, but for the majority of my upbringing and all through formal education I was nudged and pushed and reminded of how important it is to pursue a career that will pay well.
My father would pull up to the drive-thru window of McDonald’s or Wendy’s after another one of my high school hockey games and, just before handing me my bag of food, hold it back and say, “Remember to do well in life, Cole. Otherwise you’ll end up like that kid,” and subtly point to the pimply-faced teenager in the window.
Studying creative writing, to my father, was suicide.
This theme of going my own way has been a prominent one ever since I was a little kid, but I can say with all my heart that it is the single most valuable trait I believe that I have. I wasn’t born all that book smart. I get nervous every time someone puts a test in front of me because my brain just doesn’t work that way. I grew up very insecure and afraid to express myself. And I was told, time and time again, how easy it would be for me to walk a similar path to my father. That’s really all I had to do, and success would be guaranteed. Just put one foot in front of the other, do as I was told, and one day I would have all that he had.
Parenting advice to ignore.
If there is one piece of overarching advice I am glad I ignored, it was the advice to do what my parents wanted me to do, for the purpose of being “safe.” I look around at my peers who grew up in similar situations and studied banking or “communications” per their parents’ requests. They sit in cubicles every day and hate their lives—and then spend their lofty paychecks to buy bottle service at nightclubs, hoping to validate their career path. It’s sad to me.
I grew up in a mansion. My first car was a BMW x5. I’ve gone on outrageous vacations, driven speed boats, stayed in the Presidential Suite for 10 days in Hawaii, and I can honestly say that I would rather never experience all of those things again but be true to myself, than experience all of them for the rest of my life paid for by a career that doesn’t have my heart.
Stay true to yourself. And the irony is, all the rewards will follow if you master what you love—and you will enjoy them in a completely and much more satisfying way.
PS…Thanks Cole for sharing. I invite all readers to check out www.kidschoresandmore.com to gain ways to really know and understand your kids strengths. Then your parenting advice will be: “Follow Your Heart and Be Happy” Judy Helm Wright aka Auntie Artichoke
What Parenting Advice Did You Ignore? (Nicolas Cole)