Mom or Dad as College Student: Why You’re a Great Example for Your Kids

Since I’ve had kids, I’ve cleaned up my act. OK—my act was never that unclean to begin with, but what I mean is that just about everything I do or say in front of my two impressionable young ones first starts with me asking myself these two questions:

  1. If either of my kids repeats this/retells this to their teachers or a neighbor or a stranger, will I be embarrassed?
  2. How can I set a good example for my kids?

(Mostly question #2.)

Motherhood has caused me to practice what I preach, to think hard about the message that my actions and words send to my little ones. So, when my kids are in my presence, you won’t catch me (or my husband) breaking rules or being rude or lazy or negative. (Except on bad days. Hey, we all have them.)

Your kids are always watching

Kids are receptive—and easily influenced. They see how you act, and they think it’s okay, even if it isn’t. They watch what you do, and think doing it the same way is the best approach.

I genuinely believe that there’s no better way to teach your child about the importance of a college education than to get one yourself. And yes, it counts if you’re in school now. You value it so much that you’re making the commitment to go—even if it’s hard. Even if it’s inconvenient.

Sure, it would have been easier if you’d gotten your degree years ago, before your child entered the world and made your life far more complicated (and wonderful). Getting college out of the way back when you had fewer responsibilities and bills to pay would have saved you some stress. But if it didn’t happen that way, that’s OK.

Show them by doing

Here’s one way to look at it. When it comes to showing your child the value of education, you have a great advantage over those of us who went to college before our kids were around to see us doing it. If only my kids knew all the hours I logged studying, all the pressure I put on myself to keep up my grades and grasp tough material. What I could have taught them by example!

You’re setting an example everyday

If you’re a mom or a dad student, you’re setting an example for your sons and daughters every day. Every evening you sit down at the same time as them to do homework, you show them the relevance of it. Every day they watch you juggle work, school, and parenthood, they realize how hard you’re willing to work to make a better life for your family. Every time they see you figure something out or research a problem, you teach them that it is important to be resourceful and to try hard.

Your inspiration: your kids

In addition to Front Range, I write for a number of other schools, so I have the opportunity to talk to lots of students of all ages—many of whom put off college for awhile but always dreamed of going eventually. And you know what? Parents as students usually tell me their kids are the main reason they decided to go to college.

Being a parent student is hard

And I know that you’re probably tempted every day to give up. But don’t. You have the greatest motivation in the world to keep going: your children. Believe me when I say that they will appreciate it. They might not say it, but they’re inspired by you. And they might not realize it, but what you’re doing benefits them as much—if not more—than it benefits you. And that, mom or dad student, is something to be very proud of!

Are you a parent as well as a college student? Or did you watch your mom or dad attend college when you were young? What did you think?

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Michaele Charles is the founder of Voice Communications and writes frequently for higher education institutions, small businesses, corporate clients, and others. She also is a fledgling children’s writer. In her pre-writing life, she worked in accounting and finance.

7 Responses to “Mom or Dad as College Student: Why You’re a Great Example for Your Kids”

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January 30, 2012 at 1:01 pm, Joseph Lujan said:

As a current student, my youngest daughter sees the sacrifice and hard work I put in to work and school to make a better life for us. This has made her want to study more and get better grades for school.

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January 30, 2012 at 1:50 pm, Michaele Charles said:

Hi Joseph, Good for you. You’re probably influencing her more than you even know. Keep it up–one day all of your sacrifices will pay off for both of you!

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January 31, 2012 at 10:14 am, Caly Kron said:

My husband and I both work full time and are both back in school. We have two wonderful, energetic children ages four and two. Most of our days are chaotic at best but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We know all of the short term sacrifices will someday be outweighed by the long term gains of higher education and we hope our kids will see that.
My daughter loves curling up with me at night to do homework and actually cried when I lent one of my textbooks to a friend. There are days when we both want to quit but knowing that this is all for our kids just makes us want to try harder.

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January 31, 2012 at 10:20 am, Michaele Charles said:

Caly, people like you amaze and impress me. Keep up your hard work. As you said, your chidlren will benefit from it and so will the two of you–investing in your educaton is always a wise investment. And when you’re done, you’ll feel that sense of pride that comes with achieving a big goal. Good luck!!

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January 31, 2012 at 5:34 pm, Cherie said:

Thank you for your article. You have no idea how close to home this hits me right now. I’m in school again, at 37, 3 children one is a HS Junior. There are days I totally want to give up. Taking classes parttime just makes the semesters creep slowly by and it doesn’t feel like I’m getting anywhere. I even ask myself at times, WHY am I putting myself (us) through this!?…. but I see the light at the end of the tunnel, the benefits that will come to us and others when I finish my program!

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January 31, 2012 at 5:46 pm, Michaele Charles said:

Hi Cherie, I can totally understand why you sometimes want to drop the whole thing. But don’t. You WILL get there one day, and sure, it might take awhile, but it will still be worth it. Your children (espeically the one who is close to college-going age) will admire your tenacity, but just as important, when the time comes that you finish that last class and have your degree finished, you’ll be able to hold your head high knowing that you achieved what you set out to achieve.

My parents were in college–both of them at the same time–getting master’s degrees when I was 11 years old. I’ll never forget how hard they worked, and it had a very lasting impact it had on me. (Obviously–I’m still writing about it today.) Don’t give up. People like you really deserve a standing ovation in my opinion!! Good luck to you!

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February 06, 2012 at 12:32 pm, Carta di credito online said:

good word for all parents!!!