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Are Your Children Destined for Success?

Photograph by Twenty20

As if modern parenting isn't stressful enough, apparently our children's future success depends on us too. According to Business Insider, psychology research indicates 11 parenting factors that predict success. These factors include high socioeconomic status, kindergarten social skills, early math skills, working moms and healthy relationships.

I felt like a bit of an anomaly reading through the list. They didn't define what they considered successful, but since I have a job, am happily married, and have never gone to jail, I assumed I qualified. If my parents had read this list of predictors when I was a baby, they may have doubted their ability to raise me to be successful.

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"And while there isn't a set recipe for raising successful children, psychology research has pointed to a handful of factors that predict success. Unsurprisingly, much of it comes down to the parents." Whoa, that's a lot of pressure.

I'm concerned about the undue stress and competition focusing on something like this article could cause because it plays into our parenting fears of failing our children. It also opens the door for over analyzing and judging children's behavior and how it reflects on our parenting.

I can just hear it now, "Oh, your five-year-old isn't very good at sharing, is he? I guess he'll be in jail by the time he's 30. My kids are excellent sharers, so they are destined for success."

According to this list, I had at least three or four strikes against me. May the odds be ever in your favor, I suppose.

Sometimes we have a tendency to run away with correlation, thinking it's causation, but I doubt one potential factor will doom a kid for life.

Neither of my parents have a college education, though my dad went through an apprenticeship for a trade after high school. We did not have a high socioeconomic status. When I was very young, I recall living in subsidized housing and receiving food stamps. (It's hard to forget standing in line for government cheese and peanut butter.) For many years, we probably straddled the low-income and lower-middle class line.

As for our family dynamics, well, I wouldn't classify them as healthy relationships. Things have changed over time, but my parents' relationship was a bit dysfunctional as I was growing up.

According to this list, I had at least three or four strikes against me. May the odds be ever in your favor, I suppose.

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I believe the few positive points I had in my life made a larger impact. Perhaps if I didn't have any of these success predictors, my future would have been bleaker. My family always believed in me and encouraged me along the way. They read to me a lot, and I learned to read early. I attended a Head Start program and always did well in school academically. Even though we weren't sure if we'd be able to afford it, my parents set me on the path to believing I would go to college.

A healthy relationship with both parents would have been ideal, but through everything, I always had a very solid relationship with my dad. I think that made a huge difference for me, especially when I was living with him during my teen years. Despite everything, I think the biggest factor was me—how invested I was in myself.

Sometimes I do look back at my childhood and wonder how exactly I ended up where I am now. I want to raise kind, generous, and compassionate human beings. I want my children to be happy and successful—whatever that means for them. I admit, it feels good knowing my husband and I have improved our children's chances, but I won't be able to take all the credit.

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