It used to be that all you really needed in life was a high school diploma. With it, you could walk across the street and land a decent paying job. A university degree was seen as something for the well-to-do, and a privilege few could afford. As technology sped up, changes reshaped our social expectations, and higher levels of education became the normal prerequisite for employment. Parents, many who have no university level education, began encouraging their children to shoot for a university degree.
Forty-year-old Sylvie Boyer never attended university but is dedicated to making sure her children get there. Boyer, who works as a maintenance supervisor, never gave a second thought about getting an education. “When I was growing up my mother told me to find myself a nice guy to take care of me,” she says. Although changing careers or going to university is now acceptable, her mother then told her that if you married well, you didn’t really need university.
“But today I encourage my daughter to go to university.”
Times have changed and many students attending university today are there, in part, because of the motivational inspirations and beliefs of their parents.
Many students at home have heard about the benefits of attending university. Melissa Tomecz, who attended Concordia University between 2000 and 2002, says that she started hearing the word university in the house when her eldest sister was at Dawson College.
“My parents were discussing whether I would need to go to university or not,” she said.
According to Tomecz one of the most important factors in her success was her parents’ encouragement. “They encouraged me to keep going even though I would have a lot of work to do. And when they saw my good marks they told me they were very proud and pushed me to go even further.”
“Parents hope for much more for their children,” says Dr John Gottman, of the Gottman Institute, world renowned for his breakthrough research on marriage and parenting. Gottman adds that many parents want their children to be moral and responsible people who contribute to society, and who have the strength to make their own choices in life. “Parents will go to great lengths to see that their adult children will enjoy accomplishments of their own talents, enjoy life and the pleasures it can offer, who have good relationships with friends and successful marriages, and who themselves become good parents.”
University is often seen as the road to those accomplishments.
Besides supplying creature comforts parents will also contribute each in their own way. “My mom especially gave me the inspiration to take up my writing passion because she told me that I was really blessed with the gift,” Tomecz said. Her father, who works as a mechanical technician, always helped with transportation if she had a late class or if she needed to do research at the library.
A parent’s dedication also includes the emotional ups and downs of getting a university degree. Adult children who live at home reap the benefits of a strong home base during their studies. One of Tomecz concerns was starting from scratch.
“My main obstacle was trying to find people and feeling welcomed into the school,” Tomecz said. “My family was there for me.”
Sometimes the encouragement can only go as far as the finances. Cezar Brumneau, 25, who attended Concordia’s political science program between 1999 and 2000 always, had his mother’s encouragement for as long as he could remember. But the problem was financial.
“My mother could not keep up the finances and nor could I. I tried loans but decided it would be better to work. My mother still encourages me,” he says.
Even as the public and private sector denote an important lack of technicians in many fields, note the Normes du Travail report on the lack of trades people in Quebec, parents continue to place emphasis on university.
The old adage that parents worked harder and make sacrifices because they envision more for their children is true when it comes to encouraging them to pursue a university level education. And all that hard work is rewarded when their child finally reaches the brass ring and comes out fully prepared to start a new career. For all the Sylvie Boyer’s out there who never attended university its hats off for their unselfish attention to their children’s future.
For more information on Dr. John Gottman, you can visit the Gottman Institute website at www.gottman.com.