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Challenge: Back to School

Cliff Clavin is Alive and Well

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We welcomed home our erudite collegiate sons and daughters this summer with anticipation and excitement. We were eager to let the family dynamic ebb back into the pre-college flow. Not so much. Our children were getting smarter, don’t you know? And, like the beloved know-it-all from Cheers, Cliff Clavin, our kids bellied up to our kitchen islands and dinner tables the resident experts on most things! And, so it went, all summer long, those new ideas and learning were communicated in the form of absolutes and proclamations, “I’m telling you….”, “I’m absolutely sure”, or how about, “I’m 100% sure…”. Or there was the debate mode because, after all, they certainly know more about social enterprise than you do. As the summer progressed, our children were just one proclamation away from the U-Haul being loaded up much earlier than planned.

And then, I realized, it’s just another rite of passage. We all did it on some level. I’m certain I was quite obnoxious. I recall thinking that I was “all that and a bag of chips” as an English major who was well on her way through the Complete Works of Shakespeare. I’m proficient in the category English Lit on Jeopardy, but after that, I’m not sure how quoting MacBeth makes me super special. And then, the stories trickled in. A friend admitted that after taking a class on “Theories on the Cold War” in the 80’s taught by an associate of Ralph Nadar, she rolled in to a Thanksgiving dinner at her college roommate’s home quite the expert. Only to find out years later that her roommate’s dad was a high level Department of Defense consultant! Another friend reminisced on her diatribe about World Religion at Christmas dinner until her parents who were born and raised in India intercepted her proclamations! The nerve!

Yet, our young people’s confidence validates an important idea, the engagement of learning. As irritating the conveyance of knowledge sans life experience may be, our students are engaged and expressing the fun in learning new things. So, as the sun sets on summer break, invite them to sit on your barstool and share the new ideas that are getting them excited about the world. The prospect of having a lifelong learner who is curious and evolving is the silver lining to a flimsy debate or absolutes in their speech. So, parent, push those thoughts of, “You sound ridiculous” out of your head and embrace it! Engaged learning is money well spent!

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