mom and child

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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