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Exercise in Manipulating a Teen

This is a continuation of the last blog on unwanted relocation. I wanted to give more details on how we helped our oldest daughter decide to choose Kellam High School (the school she graduated from). And I will admit up front that when my oldest realized what my wife and I did to best ensure she chose that school, years after the fact, she was not particularly happy. I can sugar coat what it was (i.e. shaping, guiding or enabling), but in its purest form, it was manipulation. But the reason was justified, the situation dictated, and I would do it again for multiple reasons.

The concern was she would put herself in a situation that would unknowingly disadvantage her high school career and affect her college aspirations (unknowingly to her). This was a major decision academically and socially, and one that my wife and I felt had to be right. While at the same time, we needed her to have a positive attitude and feel invested in the transition. It was that context that led us to empower her to" decide" while best ensuring she selected the school we thought best.

As we traveled to Virginia Beach we explained things that should be considered, and that she would make the final decision on which school to attend. After visiting schools and comparing the strengths and weaknesses it eventually came down to two. One was a school that hosted an International Baccalaureate (IB) program that she was eligible to attend and the other would be based on where we would live. My wife and I believed Kellam, the school in our housing zone, was best. So now we had to cause our oldest to believe that school was the best, vice tell her that was the best one (or force her to accept what we wanted).

There were several reasons we believed Kellan was a better choice. Kellam offered Advanced Placement (AP) classes (which at the time was comparable to IB), and the number of classes she would take every year would be less (fewer credits required to graduate). In contrast, the IB program would dictate increased time demand and academic stress with uncertain benefits while putting additional strain on her for 3 years. The overarching stress of being in the IB program would be markedly higher than taking select AP classes with a normal college preparatory curriculum. And factoring our daughters personality, that would be painful for her and us.

So our talks were about how she would work her schedule with soccer as well as the impact of an increased class load and the time demand if in an IB based school. The benefits, or lack thereof, academically of graduating from an IB program vice taking AP classes (for potential college credit). After our talks, my wife and I had to give her time to think, and we had to listen to her views and ultimately conversate as perceived peers. This was important so she believed her thoughts, views and opinion mattered. And they did, but in different ways - how she was formulating her thoughts, her increasing comfort with ultimately deciding, and lastly, that she was moving towards "choosing" our preferred school.

In the end, she made the final decision, which we wholeheartedly agreed with, and was fully bought in on the move, her school and the role she played in all of it. And the goals we desired as parents were met. And yes, she excelled academically, socially, and athletically because of it.

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