• Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.


Math Geek Mom: Wisdom Beyond Computers

Advising and receiving advice from a daughter.

June 27, 2013

I went to college in the early 1980s, when computers were still a rare sight on campus. They were used in only one course I took, and that was to employ an econometrics program that had been developed at MIT. This program used was called “Troll.” It was a program I have never encountered since I left that course, and was very different from the statistical computer programs I now use every day. Indeed, even though I graduated from a good undergraduate program, I had very little training in working with computers, and when I arrived in graduate school, found myself purchasing a book that was titled something along the lines of “Fortran for Dummies.” I felt like quite a dummy at that point, and knew that I needed to learn more about how these mysterious boxes on our desks function.

Fast forward many years, and my daughter is learning how to use computers in grammar school. While this is generally a good thing, I find myself struggling with finding ways to make sure that she does not wander to questionable parts of the Internet. As I am well aware, setting “parental controls” for her at this point is basically a lesson in futility. Indeed, she has even set parental controls that (momentarily) prevented me from accessing my own work and a program on the TV that I had recorded. I am left at the point where I need to begin trusting her own judgment, and can’t depend on being able to prevent her from doing things that I think are dangerous.

I do find, at times, find that she is a wealth of information on how to use technology. As I like to say, if you want to know how to use technology, ask someone under thirty (and she is certainly under thirty!) However, aside from issues about the use of technology, I tend to believe that I have much more wisdom than she does. That is, until I recently found myself in a conversation with two former colleagues.

I was working with my co-author at my former place of employment a few weeks ago when I ran into another former colleague who is now a dean. The three of us began to chat, and before long, they both mentioned that they often seek out advice from their grown children about decisions they need to make in their lives. One even asked their children if they should accept a job that was quite a promotion, and in discussing the matter, they both agreed that often times their children have great wisdom to share with them. With a daughter in the midst of the growing years, I cannot imagine asking for and/or taking advice from my daughter about major life decisions. And so I wanted to ask my readers about this.

When it comes to decisions more important than whether to purchase a new computer (or which one to purchase), do you ask your children for advice? And if so, do you usually take it? Is this something I can look forward to as my daughter matures?


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