Building Better Families – #4 – Parenting is Not About 1 Success

Olymic Ring

I have a teenaged daughter who views arguing as an Olympic sport – she practices constantly to improve her skills.

This past weekend the argument was about graduation – she doesn’t want to go to her own high school graduation because she will be bored.

The problem is, I kind of agree with her.

She has a large class of around 500 people graduating and it is going to take hours for everyone to walk across the stage – that doesn’t even count the speeches required. I am not sure I am looking forward to it much either.

In the middle of this argument I remembered a phrase from chapter 3 of Building Better Families,

“Parenting is not about one great success – graduation….”

It made me stop and think a bit about the past 17 years of parenting.

She is our oldest and we are so proud of her I can’t even begin to tell you how proud we are.

She was diagnosed with Aspergers (a form of autism) when she was in 2nd grade and has had to overcome many obstacles in her life.

When she was younger the possibility that she would graduate with her peers and attend college didn’t even seem possible, and yet here we are.

She struggled through grade school with making friends and sitting still. Her attention wandered constantly (Squirrel!) and she much preferred reading to doing anything else. Alien

She battled long and hard with the monster that lived in her locker in middle school – it regularly ate the homework she worked so hard to complete the night before. I can’t even begin to count how many times she had to re-do her homework because it got eaten (It couldn’t possibly be that she was just so disorganized that she couldn’t find it.)

She has managed to survive high school with a minimum of effort. ( and I mean minimum, she consistently does the least amount of work she can get away with no matter how much we yell at her.)

Now she is looking forward to her senior year of high school and on to college. She has big plans for her life that include a lot of travel abroad and doing what she is most passionate about. She is happy with who she is and that is perhaps the best measure of our success as parents.

So in honor of this accomplishment we are going to follow the social norm, invite grandparents and go to her graduation.

We want to celebrate all of the small successes, and even the failures,  that have led to this point.

In a moment of brilliant insight I said to her,

“Sometimes you do something you don’t want to do because you love the person who is asking you to do it.”

That statement got me an eye roll and

“But Mom, What if……”

Remember she is an Olympic level arguer – oh well -it was worth a try.



If you missed the other articles in this series here they are:

Start Here


Chapter 1

Chapter 2