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Things to Worry About

On Saturday evening, I had dinner with friends whom I met when in Ireland four years ago. Both work in the School of Education at Trinity College Dublin. Aiden has just started a new administrative role as Senior Tutor, which he defined as the equivalent of what we would know as Student Life in our university system in Canada.

The conversation was a reflective one as we discussed the increased levels of anxiety we see in
high-achieving students and parents. We discussed the delicate balance between supporting students while also working to building their resilience, capacity and independence so that they are better able to ‘push through’ challenging times.

The conversation reminded me of two things I have read over the last few weeks.

The first is an excerpt of a letter from F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of one of my favourites books The Great Gatsby, to his daughter Scottie while she was away at camp:

Things to worry about:
Worry about courage
Worry about Cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship
Worry about. . .

Things not to worry about:
Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions

The second is a great article in the New York Times about how to guide children to work through difficult emotions and situations as opposed to going around them. It is an excellent read and I recommend it to all parents.

Life has changed in so many ways and with the increased deluge of information over the last ten to fifteen years, we are often faced with images and writing about what we should be doing or achieving.

I am not naïve enough to think we can wind back time; however, I do believe that, as parents and teachers, we can slow our children’s and students’ lives down such that our girls are focused on the ‘now’ and are better able to learn how to work through challenges and difficult emotions.

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