The gift of being driven

Dr. O'Toole over at Kartini has a wonderful blog post up on what parents can do to support recovering/recovered kids who are at college. She gets it right on this, and every parent with a kid near college age will cheer.

Several of the Around the Dinner Table forum community just sent recovered kids off to college for the first time, and my daughter is off again as well, and I'm thinking a lot about the drive for achievement.

"She's a gifted dancer.""He's driven to succeed." "She lives to run." "We don't have to remind him to hit the books - he won't leave them alone."

It has been a while since I could hear things like the above without cringing. I used to think of them as bragging rights. Now I hear them as warning signs.

It is subtle, but parents learn to listen for the difference between "loves to" and "lives to." Between "wants" and "has to."

An eating disorder can bestow an unnatural focus - this focus can translate into high grades, high jumps, and blue ribbons. We can be seduced by these successes - we can grow dependent on seeing our children as over-achievers and star athletes.

Don't let them tell you that parents cause eating disorders with our high expectations or our pride in our child's achievements. Yet let's recognize the luxuries of supporting our child through the normal stuff... like failing freshman chemistry and sleeping through 8a.m. lectures. Not that I know anything about those things...


  1. " I can't even remember when she got a B on her report card..."
    I've said that many times. Was I bragging? Probably. Now, I truly wish she would get a B, or even a C. She needs to see that the world won't end, if she isn't perfect.

  2. I doubt anybody who hasn't been there gets how proud I was of my daughter for starting to get less than perfect grades!

    Your daughter will get there - here's to Vitamin B and Vitamin C!

  3. I went from valedictorian of my high school class (culminating a senior year during which my weight dropped to 65 pounds and I had to get a day pass from the hospital to attend graduation) to a college freshman who got Cs. Being able to survive getting less than "perfect" grades was wonderfully liberating!

  4. I would have killed to get A's in school. Unfortunately, I struggled with untreated ADHD and an abusive mother so I obviously had craptastic grades.

  5. Getting good grades is one thing...feeling compelled to get them (by an internal voice) is another.

    I have never gotten a B. Ever. My therapist told me to try, which I found first, a little asinine. Why would you try to get a B? And then, I realized I didn't know how not to try and be perfect all the time. I made peace and got a lot of A- in grad school and it sounds dumb, but I put in about 75% of the effort and didn't suffer much education-wise.

    Obviously, I have many perfectionism issues left. Which is why I'm going back to therapy. Wheeee!

    And Judi, my parents said the same thing about me. Were they proud? Yes. They had no reason not to be. I think they were also a little bewildered since my brother was a C student, if you used a cattle prod.


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