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Parents: Choose Your Words Carefully

Father Holding Daughter's Hand
Written by Monica

According to education expert, Mariela Dabbah, parents must be mindful of the words and conversations they have with their children when it comes to education. In a recent webinar for Latino students and their parents, Ms. Dabbah said that children who are most likely to pursue higher education are those whose parents have made education a priority in the home and have expressed their expectations of a college degree to their children starting when they are very young.

She says that small actions – such as making meals for children who must study late into the night, or attending school events like parent/teacher conferences – covey to your child the importance of their education and helps them to adopt it as their own.

It is an important lesson for all students and their parents seeing as how college graduates learn on average one million to a million and a half dollars more than those who do not complete college. For many, a college degree can mean the difference between wealth and poverty for their families.

Many parents worry about the rising costs of college tuition, Ms. Dabbah said, but there are so many opportunities for students to get financial help nowadays that she discourages parents from seeing this as an obstacle to overcome.

Also attending the webinar was 21-year-old Luis Duran and his parents. Luis was the recipient of the $100,000 RMHC/HACER National Scholarship in 2009, which covers his college tuition. Luis’s parents, Maria and Luis Sr., are originally from El Salvador. They fled the country during its civil war back in the ‘90s, and received political asylum here in the States. Their children were born here, and though Mr. and Mrs. Duran speak very little English, both of their kids received complete scholarships to cover the cost of their college educations. Luis credits his parents for his academic success, and claims their involvement and expectations made the difference.

Mrs. Duran says that children have to be programmed. Since they were very young, she always referred to her children as “little lawyers” or “future doctors” to help them see the possibilities in the future and internalize the importance of their education.

So next time your talking with your toddler, be mindful of your words.


Creative commons-licensed photo provided by Spirit-Fire1.



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About the author


Monica es la fundadora y publisher de, un sitio para familias latinas que hacen educación en casa y también familias con niños en escuelas tradicionales que quieren un rol activo en la educación de sus hijos. Ganadora del premio "Mejor Bloguera Latina de Educación 2011" de LATISM.

  • Jenna Tomaszewski

    I work one year olds and it is incredible what they pick up on. Not only do they pick up what I say they also constantly repeat it. It makes me think twice before I speak which is totally beneficial. I just wish more people would take a second to think about the repercussions of what they say.

    • Monica

      I think as parents, we sometimes forget the power of our words and how important they are in our children’s lives.

  • Mauricio TX55

    Very true, but I think it’s important that education is encouraged rather than pushed on. The toughest thing I find about motivating my son is recognizing when I’m being pushy and when I’m going too easy on him. Attending school events and making sure your children eat well when and if they have to study later than usual are very good advices. My parents had always reminded me of how hard they worked to bring us to our great country and how much harder they were working to make sure my sister and I were getting the education necessary for us to be successful. I give all the credit in the world to my parents for the person that I am and I thank them for making me understand how much they had to sacrifice for me and my sister.

    • Monica

      You’re absolutely right. It is a balancing act. I think the key here though, is to be encouraging and not belittle their dreams.