Wilma Bowers, president of an affluent Virginia suburban high school PTA, is on a quixotic crusade to get parents to slow down the ‘high-stakes parenting arms race’.
Bowers knows it’s a high-stakes parenting arms race in McLean and communities like it. The obsession with grades and college résumés can overwhelm everything. She wants people to back off — and is trying to get them to, with film screenings, workshops, lectures and meetings with clergy and mental health professionals.
In a twist on the NIMBY “Not in my Backyard” concept, many parents agree that although not every kid is destined for Harvard, they’re reluctant to be the first ones to ease off with their own children.
Many fellow parents think that disarming sounds good, in theory. The problem is, they’re reluctant to try it with their own kid.
Parents should encourage “authentic success” instead of pushing for perfection at any cost.
There are 3,000 colleges out there, Allison said as she ran through a presentation of nearly 100 slides. The guiding principles for parents, she told them, should be: Students should be doing something they love; they should be able to support themselves; and they should give something back. That’s authentic success.
Despite this uplifting advice, I predict that affluent parents will continue to push their children to achieve at the highest levels. They do not think of themselves as average, so they are unlikely to settle for average outcomes for their children. And they are fearful their children will be left behind in the ongoing economic rat race.