It’s pretty normal for parents to dread some of the discussions they know they have to have with their kids. And when you think of uncomfortable topics, you usually think of things like sex, drugs, and alcohol. I personally think that much of this discomfort is due to the inner conflict created because you know you are trying to emphasize the importance of your child not doing the things you did when you were his age. But we find a way to muddle through by weasel wording our way to minimal hypocrisy.
Still, I was a little surprised by a recent survey by Intel showing that parents would overwhelmingly rather talk to their kids about drugs than about math or science. And I’m thinking that I want my kids to know I did physics and trigonometry at their age. What’s the big deal?
It turns out that over half of the polled parents admit to having trouble helping junior with math and science. About a quarter admit that it is their own lack of comfort with the subjects that’s holding them back. It’s not that they don’t recognize the importance of math and science. The vast majority do think it’s important for their kids to excel in these subjects. They just feel they are unprepared themselves.
Kudos to the parents who at least admit to their own limitations. And I think Intel’s efforts to create a math and science resource for those parents is laudable. I do believe that kids tend to pick up their values from Mom and Dad, even about school subjects. If parents don’t actually engage in math and science activities or homework, or worse, reject the topics as too difficult and not useful in adult life, then I think students pick up on that regardless of how often they hear about the subjects being important.
Lead by example. The apples will fall near the tree no matter how hard the wind blows.