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Parents: Stop pushing your children to be the best

The old adage of "do your best" has been replaced with the new childhood mantra of "be THE best."
Erin Stewart, Deseret News Modified: August 26, 2014 at 10:50 pm •  Published: August 27, 2014

I received a horrifying email from a test prep company today that basically told me that my children are destined to be unemployed slobs if I don’t buy an academic enrichment program immediately.

It said: “I’m going to be blunt with you: if you aren’t working today to get your child ahead of the pack, it means they’re falling behind even if school just started. It’s imperative that you start right now to give your child the advantage they need to achieve their full potential. Don’t wait another second!”

Sound the alarms! I have to act fast or my child could end up ... (ominous drumroll, please) ... average! (Gasp!)

Companies like this drive me crazy because they are preying on well-intentioned parents who want their children to succeed. The problem is, more and more parents are buying into this nonsense and our kids are paying for it. In my area, for example, it is routine for parents to enroll their 7-year-olds in a summer test prep course so they can score in the top percentile on the Gifted and Talented test in second grade. Not surprisingly, 50 percent of my daughter’s school somehow now ranks in the top 97 percent of students. How’s that for fuzzy math?

And when they’re not preparing for an intelligence test, her peers have handwriting tutors, after-school enrichment courses and an assortment of extracurricular activities that make my head spin.

But, really, how else can they be the best? That’s what it's all about, right? Having the best child. Being the best parent. Winning parenthood and instilling that same drive in our children.

When did it become a crime to be average? To work hard and read on grade level rather than five grade levels ahead? The old adage of "do your best" has been replaced with the new childhood mantra of "be THE best."

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