Smart and Pretty . . . Back in the Day

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By Melissa Ford

Coach - Personal & Business

“You have to be smart, but also you have to be pretty, and also you have to do sports and you have to be involved in the arts, and you have to find something unique about yourself.  And you have to know yourself, because if you don’t know yourself before you do all that, you’re going to lose yourself.” - Kelly, 9th Grade from the documentary film,  “Race to Nowhere.” 

Finding it difficult to breathe?  When I first read that quote I thought, “Thank goodness I was born back in the day!”    

When I was growing up, girls had to be smart and pretty.  Sports, arts, being unique, knowing yourself weren’t even on the radar screen.  But, pretty and smart were definitely requirements for success in my junior high and high school during the 60s and 70s.  Thank goodness my “have to’s" and "should’s” were limited because I felt fairly challenged by both.  Yet, I still felt good about myself because my parents believed in me, always telling me I was capable of doing whatever I wanted.  And, there was no pressure in my family (besides the self-inflicted teenage kind) to “do it all or be it all!”   

There will always be pressures in our world, but those pressures don’t have to be developed and supported within our families.  Let’s start reflecting on our own definitions of success for our sons and daughters.  Do those definitions nurture our children?  Is there balance in their lives?  Are these “real” interests our kids are so madly pursuing?  Is there joy and a deep interest in their school work?   

Whether you live in Oak Park or River Forest - join community conversations on Facebook’s River Forest Families Redefining Success to spark your reflections and shift your perspectives.

What will your children’s definition of success be when they reflect. . . back in the day?    


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