Feb 022006
 
Authors: Jenna Lynn Ellis

I was never a rebellious child. As an adult, I definitely voice my opinions, preferences and wisdom but I've never been an obstinate adult either. Especially when it comes to my family.

I love my parents and the older I get, the more I understand their wisdom and maturity. This lends evidence to the observation that when I don't understand their advice or decisions now, it's in my best interests to realize that I should probably follow their judgment and maybe I'll understand later.

Of course, this isn't to say that I don't make my own decisions or never do something against their counsel. It's that I choose to accept counsel from those in the older and wiser generation and from people whom I trust and who have my absolute best interests in mind. People like my parents and other parent-like mentors.

The point is that I value obtaining wise counsel.

We see this model everywhere in the business world. Top executives have a board of trustees, close business "family" members who are trusted advisers and lend insight into the difficult decisions for the company's benefit and future success.

A president would be foolish to make decisions completely alone without consultation. He has a cabinet and advisers and special appointees precisely for this very reason: we all need wise counsel.

Sure, we may disagree with the prevailing opinion of the day and decide to rough it alone, but at least we've heard it and thought through all sides.

So why is it so different when it comes to parents? Why is everyone else in the world a potential "role model" and someone to be respected and listened to except one's own parents?

I find this extremely illogical.

And what's worse is that our society, many parents and even us are doing nothing to counteract this paradox. Everyone just assumes that once kids reach their teen years, they suddenly have reached the apex of learning, the sum of all wisdom and are actually expected to become obstinate toward their parents and other parental figures.

"Adolescence" is something we just accept, and generally the consequences are far-reaching into the college years and beyond.

This is absolutely tragic for both the parental figures and for children; especially once they reach true adulthood (maturity) and realize how much ground they have to make up.

Why are "young people," defined now as teenage through early 30s, so obstinately isolated? Even if your biological parents aren't there for you, there are plenty of other mentors and parental figures right here on this campus that are worthy to be listened to and respected.

At a conference I attended in D.C., there was an afternoon seminar on the values of networking. Networking is so practical and completely makes sense: one person can't know everyone, so they must build a network of people. Through using your networking to utilize another's network (sometimes three, four, five-plus times removed), then you can actually get in touch with the right people.

One of the main points at the seminar was that you have to start your network as young as possible. Then when you're fresh out of college or looking for internships, you already have access and credibility with the right people.

This same principle of utilizing networking strategies applies to the principle of having advisers and counselors, like parents. Start young. Have access to the right wisdom and information once the decisions are bigger than which movie to see on Friday night.

I can't imagine if I was just now starting to assemble my "cabinet" (which is now huge with advisers and "parents" in all different fields and aspects of life), and if I had missed out on all the wisdom my mom and dad were so eager to share – and still are!

My parents will always remain my key advisers. They have lifetime appointments with no option for retirement. Other influencers in my life may come and go, but their wisdom will leave a deep imprint and I'll have learned much from them.

Mentors and parental figures don't make us childlike or less an "individual." They are the most valuable component in building the future – our future. They are a wealth of opportunity. And spending time observing, learning from and just talking with mentors is possibly the most valuable thing you can do on a Friday night.

Jenna Lynn Ellis is a junior technical journalism major. Her column runs every Friday in the Collegian.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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