I Followed the Parenting Tips from Young Sheldon . . . and Did the Opposite

The author and her family in Central Park

The Big Bang Theory first aired in September 2007. My spouse holds a nuclear engineering degree from MIT. Our younger kid, then only four, displayed a keen interest in science. (Sample dialogue: Him: Can’t exit the bath. Engaged in surface tension and light refraction. Me: You imply splashing?)

We followed the pilot and found it watchable. However, in typical Chuck Lorre fashion, the humor veered towards mean-spiritedness, the characters became unlikable, and the storylines felt cliched.

Upon the arrival of Young Sheldon a decade later, we detected a different aura and decided to give it a chance.

At that point, we had a 14-year-old son urging us to authorize his departure from school since 3rd grade. He argued he was bored, learning nothing, and could educate himself better.

We made a deal. He would stick to school, behave in class, and upon finishing 8th grade, he could proceed directly to college.

Over the following five years, there were highs and lows. Instances included his rare D on a geography test, prompting a discussion with his teacher about his learning strategy.

He made his way through 8th grade, fulfilling his end of the bargain. It was up to me to honor mine.

One of New York City’s colleges was our initial choice, but CUNY’s requirements posed a barrier as they demanded a high school diploma for their placement test. While half of NYC high school graduates fail this test, passing it doesn’t confer a diploma!

Given the unfeasibility of our affordable school plan, we visited Simon’s Rock, an early college in Massachusetts, which although didn’t meet our affordability criteria, offered substantial scholarships.

To facilitate the visit, my husband and I took time off work, and my brother provided transportation after also taking leave from work. Arrangements were made for our daughter and son for the day.

Despite our disappointment with Simon’s Rock’s academic offerings, we allowed our son to apply. However, the exorbitant cost posed a challenge, deterring his enrollment.

Witnessing our son’s frustration, I contemplated borrowing money to support his venture.

Cue Young Sheldon. The show’s depiction diverged from its predecessor, emphasizing the familial support for Sheldon’s intellectual pursuits, which he often ungratefully accepted.

Sheldon from Young Sheldon
Mary Cooper (Zoe Perry) supports her gifted son Sheldon (Iain Armitage) at Missy’s expense.

In response, we informed our son he’d attend Stuyvesant, NYC’s top public high school. During his freshman year, he reiterated his desire to quit, but we stood firm.

The refusal stemmed from Young Sheldon teachings. We did not want our son to adopt an arrogant attitude, believing he was superior to his peers. Stuyvesant, boasting NYC’s brightest students, was deemed suitable for him to avoid adopting a condescending demeanor like Sheldon.

He returned for sophomore year, only to face disruption from the pandemic. The diminished learning experience prompted considerations about his future and the viability of him homeschooling.

He was permitted to drop out for homeschooling, with the condition that he handle all the responsibilities independently, citing the influence of Young Sheldon on our decision.

His homeschooling journey would demand extensive self-research into the process, paperwork filing, class selection, and assessment arrangements—a task he would undertake without our aid.

This decision was a direct result of the disparities in parenting we observed in Young Sheldon, motivating us to maintain a balanced approach towards our children’s needs.

Void of Sheldon’s self-centered tendencies, we prioritized celebrating all our children’s achievements equally, resembling the behaviors we saw neglected in Sheldon’s family dynamic.

While Sheldon’s accomplishments were acknowledged, we ensured our son attended his sister’s events and recognized her achievements similarly to his, aligning with principles contrary to those in Young Sheldon.

By following a contrasting path to Young Sheldon‘s parenting wisdom, we aimed to raise a child with balanced values and considerate behavior, regardless of academic success.

Ultimately, our son’s endeavor saw him accepted into Caltech but opt for a different path, highlighting the diverse approaches to nurturing bright children.

Alina Adams, author of Getting Into NYC Kindergarten and Getting Into NYC High School, advocates for informed school choices on her site, NYCSchoolSecrets.com, emphasizing the need for comprehensive knowledge in the education selection process.

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