Are You Allowing Your Teen to Change?

TeenChangingStarting a new school year is a new beginning.  It is a time of new possibilities, challenges, and accomplishments.  Are you pressuring your teen to stay the same? Are you open to your teen’s changing interests?

This past summer, I was eating dinner with my daughter and some friends when the conversation turned to the question “What do you want to do in college?”  I was shocked when my daughter stated that she didn’t like to talk about college when I was around. I proceeded to ask why and she said because I would think that was what she always wanted to be, and that I wasn’t open to her changing.

Through my company, Pathways 4 Teens, I am an advocate for letting teens create their own unique path to success. Given this, how could my daughter think that I was not open to her changing?

Throughout my daughter’s lifetime, she has been asked if she wanted to go to Stanford University, since both my husband and I went there. Last year she was handed another burden which everyone now questions. My middle child went to college and is studying engineering. Now both my husband and I along with both of my sons will have engineering degrees. Whenever someone asks if she wants to be an engineer, I say that I do not know and that perhaps she’ll be a writer because writing is something that she has always loved to do.  I was trying to lessen pressure from my daughter about her future choices. However, apparently my actions were unknowingly coming across as pressure not to change.

When I interview teens, they often talk about the pressure from parents or society to be a doctor, lawyer, or engineer, etc. Especially with the specialty programs offered in high school. Teens also talk about the pressure to stick with things, and that changing your mind can sometimes be viewed as giving up, or even worse as failure. I have often heard statements from parents like “he has wanted to be a doctor since he was little”.

The time in middle school and high school is a time of growth and exploration, I hope my daughter knows to take risks and try things outside her comfort zone in a positive way. Who knows what she’ll discover about herself?

After our dinner conversation, I was concerned that I was unknowingly sending my daughter the wrong message.  That changed last week when school started and she had to do a project for English class that gave me relief. She chose the above quote as her life philosophy.

I have included her English project as a companion blog piece. – See the related post “High School Sophomore Life Philosophy” at

Miriam Phillips-Gill is the founder of Pathways 4 Teens. Pathways 4 Teens provides educational services for tweens, teens, and parents. Our services give teens the tools and parents the information to help teens create a path for college success. Register for an event or sign up for our free newsletter at

High School Sophomore Life Philosophy

BlogQuoteQuote: Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself. – George Bernard Shaw

This is the quote that my daughter picked as a life philosophy when given the project in her Sophomore English class. Prior to seeing this, I was concerned that the message wasn’t getting across. The following is the rest of her project which was her explanation of what this quote means to her:

“This motto applies to my life in that I’m not the same person I was five years ago and I’m not the person I will be five years ahead. I have different likes, dislikes, and a different perspective on life. And I am actively creating that perspective with everything I do. It’s up to me to decide who I will become; it is not a predetermined setting. This allows me to keep an open mind about now and my future, while trying not to dwell on the past.”

Maybe, I’m doing something right after all!

(See the related post : “Are You Allowing Your Teen to Change” at

Miriam Phillips-Gill is the founder of Pathways 4 Teens. Pathways 4 Teens provides educational services for tweens, teens, and parents. Our services give teens the tools and parents the information to help teens create a path for college success. Register for an event  or sign up for our free newsletter at

3 Things Every Parent Should Know When Making Educational Choices for Teens


It used to be easy for middle class families. Choose a house in a good neighborhood with good schools, and send your child to the neighborhood school.Not anymore! Now parents have more choices.High schools are offering an increasing variety of programs from bio-medical to engineering to business and more.

With these choices comes the responsibility for parents to do their research to determine which is best for their child. An important question is: Do the vast majority of teenagers know what they want to do for the rest of their lives? The answer is No. However, there seems to be increasing pressure from society to choose a “path” as early as middle school. What are parents and teens to do?

Understand Things Will Change. Your teen will change as a person. The educational options will also change. New fields of study and new industries are constantly being created.

Exploration is Important. Middle school and high school are important formative years. Expose teens to different fields of study. Keep an open mind and be mindful of the things that teens truly enjoy doing. Equally important, determine the things that teens don’t like. Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean that you like doing it.

Focus and make deliberate choices. Have a goal in mind. As time progresses, focus on things that teens truly enjoy and let go of things that they don’t. Know the various options and requirements along with the consequences of educational decisions.

Overall the main goal should be happiness! Both parents and teens should enjoy the process as teens begin to discover who they are and what they truly care about. Isn’t that what everyone wants?

Miriam Phillips-Gill is the founder of Pathways 4 Teens. Pathways 4 Teens provides educational services for tweens, teens, and parents. Our services give teens the tools and parents the information to help teens create a path for college success. Register for an event at

Congratulations! You Have a Teenager


Shortly after my first son was born, I had a conversation with my father. I was feeling guilty about having to leave my 8 week old infant son with a babysitter. At the time, my father took me aside. He told me that while this may be a trying time. It is a time when other people can easily help and take care of your child’s physical needs. However, he said a more critical time when your child will need you is during the teen years. At the time, I didn’t believe him. It seems contrary to the message that society sends about children being more self-sufficient and mothers going back to work when their children start school. However, now that my third child is a teenager. I know that he is right. Teenagers may not need you physically but they need you emotionally.

The first moment I realized that I had a teenager didn’t come when my child blew out the candles on his thirteenth birthday. It came when my child was in the 5th grade at age 10. He came home upset because there was a group of kids going around asking a question dealing with adult subject matter.  I realized we had come to the time of parenting that is truly hard, “the teen years”. The time when I had to take the time to teach my child lessons that he would truly use for a lifetime. I had to take the time to listen and resist the urge to jump in and fix things.

This moment in time was the first of many teachable moments. Moments in time that caught me off guard and made me pause to deal with the situation. It would be so much easier to just tell him what to do but I had to take the time out to explain the details. These are the moments that truly prepared my son to go out on his own. I truly believe that one of the greatest gifts that you can give a teen is the tools to be independent.

Was there a moment when you realized you were the parent of a teenager? I’d love to hear your story. Make a comment and let me know.

Miriam Phillips-Gill is the founder of Pathways 4 Teens. Pathways 4 Teens provides educational services for tweens, teens, and parents that help teens define success while keeping parents engaged in the process. Check out our current event schedule at

Why Teens Turn Down Sports Scholarships?


What would you do if your teen turned down a sports scholarship?  Last week, it was national signing day, a day of great pride for many high school athletes when they officially accept sports scholarships from colleges. Over the last 5 years of working with upper middle class families, I have spoken with some bewildered parents of high school junior and senior athletes whose teen with lots of athletic potential has made the decision not to play sports in college at the varsity level. I know the conversation firsthand, since my son made the decision not to pursue playing in college during his junior year of high school. Why? The following are major reasons:

Lack of Passion for the Sport

For various reasons, they just don’t have a desire to play the sport in college even though many continue to have successful high school careers.  Some students will experience burnout from having played the sport nonstop since 6th grade. Some will become disillusioned with the politics involved in the game such as disputes over playing time or coaching staff changes.  Still, others may have been plagued by injuries. These issues only intensify at the collegiate level.

Time Commitment in College

Playing sports at the varsity level requires a big time commitment. A NCAA survey showed that athletes spent 39 hours a week on academics and 33 hours a week on sports. Playing sports takes sacrifice. Many students are unable to work, even at critical summer internships, because of the time commitment. Some students even change their college major because they are unable to be successful at demanding majors like engineering or pre-medicine.

Athletic Scholarships Don’t Cover Everything

First of all, according to the NCAA only 2% of high school athletes will be offered an athletic scholarship. This includes “full-ride” and partial scholarships. Furthermore, there are always personal expenses that even “full-ride” scholarships do not cover.

Only time will tell if your son or daughter will have the opportunity and desire to be a student athlete in college. Being a student athlete in college can be a very rewarding once in a lifetime experience. However for high school athletes, the main focus needs to be on the academics. Many student athletes have options taken away due to not being academically prepared.  Sports can teach students many life lessons, but families need to be realistic and make informed decisions.

Miriam Phillips-Gill is the founder of Pathways 4 Teens. Pathways 4 Teens helps teens define success through teen leadership and parent engagement. Contact Miriam at or 602-999-3892. Visit to register for an event! Also follow us on facebook and twitter for more great information!

Electives Get You In!


Students in my area have begun to register for classes for next school year. A question that I often get asked is “What gets you into elite colleges?”.  The most common misconception that I see from students is forgoing electives like band, drama, choir or giving up sports in order to take an extra Advanced Placement or Honors class that they are not necessarily interested in other than the fact that it will boost their GPA. While colleges want to see a challenging schedule,  you should also have a schedule that reflects who you are and where your interests are.

At my alma mater of Stanford, we would say, “work hard, play hard!” Elective classes that you take during the school day and activities that you choose to do outside of school are what will make you stand out on a college application. Of course, strong academics and test scores are expected because the college wants to make sure that you can do the work when you get there.

Yes, your high school and some colleges have specific classes that you must take. However, the things you elect to do outside of the requirements represent who you are. Your elective activities represent the richness and talent that you will add to a college campus. Your high school transcript should represent that you have explored different things and been exposed to different fields so that you can begin to identify what you like and, equally important, what you don’t like. More importantly, electives are fun and help you reduce stress so that you can do well in your academic core classes. Pick Advanced Placement classes wisely, in those subjects that you are truly interested in. Don’t take a class in high school that you would not take in college!

Pathways 4 Teens helps families make educational choices through teen leadership and parent engagement. Contact Miriam at or 602-999-3892 or Visit for more details! Also follow us on facebook and twitter for more great information and tips on helping teens define success for themselves! 

Why My Teens Got Gifts From Santa?


On Monday my son went back to college after being home for the holidays, so now I’m back to a normal routine. As I reflect back on the last few weeks, I think it will be remembered for years to come as a truly special holiday in which we relaxed and spent lots of time together. One event I will remember is when my teens awoke to see special gifts from Santa in front of our Christmas tree.

Yes, we sat our teens down years ago and told them that Santa doesn’t physically exist. However, I told them that the spirit of Santa is alive and well. Santa represents the spirit of giving to others. Each Christmas we take the time to give back to others. When our teens were younger, they actively participated in choosing gifts for families off of tags at the Christmas giving tree from their school or the mall. We also actively gave to food drives. This year, we continued the tradition and spent a Saturday morning packing food at the food bank.

Santa also represents hopes and dreams. It’s important, no matter how old you get, to always dream and have faith that those dreams can come true. Now that our children are older, their Santa gifts have a deeper meaning than when they were younger. My oldest son, who is in his twenties, has graduated from college and does cancer research. He received a cross necklace with the inscription of the Lord’s Prayer. It is the ultimate symbol of faith and courage which is often needed when you’re out on your own. My son, who is in college, received a watch. A lasting reminder that one of the keys to success in college is the ability to manage your time. My daughter who is in high school received special earrings with her birthstone. A reminder of how special she is during a time in life when we often question how good we are compared to other people.

What was truly special about these Santa gifts was that my husband and I picked them out together. The task of picking Santa gifts has often been something that I do on my own. However, the holiday was truly special and I feel very fortunate to have had the time together. I know that one day my children may have families of their own and that they will be the ones giving gifts from Santa.

Pathways 4 Teens helps families make educational choices through student leadership and parent engagement. Contact Miriam at or 602-999-3892 or Visit for more details! Also follow us on facebook and twitter for more great information and tips on helping teens define success for themselve!