True Success is Earned – Lessons from the College Cheating Scandal


It seems almost comically scripted that a Desperate Housewife finds herself caught up in a college cheating scandal. I can see the storyline unfold as a Desperate Mom, wanting to snag choice opportunities for her kids, breaks laws and cheats the system in pursuit of “The Best”. However, in the TV version, the episode ends with the mom, her friends and many bottles of wine, sighing in relief as they get away with it. In reality, this mom was arrested and faces serious charges. It’s unknown how far reaching the negative impact of her actions will be on her kids.

There is a vast difference between getting the best and doing the best for your kids. In this instance, the lines got blurred. The fact that so many parents felt justified in lying, cheating, and buying their kids’ ways into college is hard for the average mom to comprehend. As an average mom with my oldest being just a few years shy of college, I can’t imagine paying thousands of dollars to buy what my kids couldn’t earn on their own.

Yet, part of me genuinely feels for them… because they are parents.  Moms.  I understand that desire to give your kids the world. Only, most of us can’t afford the world so we settle for giving them all that we possibly can. I’d like to think that if I lived in a world with endless resources and limitless Visa cards, I still wouldn’t break the rules, even for my kids. But, I’ll never really know because my moral compass doesn’t lead me into the same circles that theirs do. Who knows the ridiculous pressures they’ve put upon themselves to have, and to be, the best. What I do know is that underneath the fraud charges are moms who thought they were doing the best for their kids. As a mom, I get that instinct and desire. I can’t condone their actions, but I understand where they came from. I feel for them because they have to look their kids in the eyes, and they have to look themselves in the mirror and know that they allowed money, status, and privilege to cloud their parental judgment. As a result, they set the worst possible example for their children.

How often do we, as parents, make the “best” decision for our kids, only to reflect later and realize there were better choices? We can take comfort in knowing that as moms, our failures aren’t really failures- they’re stumbles, not really falls. We should absolutely strive to do the best for our kids. We should find every opportunity to provide for them, but we also need to acknowledge when it’s best that they do for themselves. We should try to give our kids the world while teaching its boundaries; that their moral compass reflects on them and is much more important than the university stamped on their diplomas. These moms screwed up this message on a level so severe that most of us can’t begin to relate, but we can still learn from it.

In my world, it’s not about cheating the system and buying opportunities. It’s about doing less for my kids, showing them how to do for themselves, and letting them go. Trusting that they will end up in a far better place if they navigate themselves. To make them do their own laundry despite their homework and busy schedules even if it’s easier to do it for them. Telling them that you won’t buy yet another Beanie Boo, though the price is minimal, and it really is cute.  Saying no even when it’s easier to say yes. Teaching my kids that just because we CAN do something doesn’t mean that we SHOULD.

Compared to the staggering consequences these moms face in light of the college cheating scandal, these seem like laughable goals and to make this connection seems absurd. However, even the smallest seeds that we plant will grow into the roots of their character. I want my kids to be mighty because I cultivated their environment to allow them to flourish, but also because I allowed them to grow on their own.

Earning it Makes it Yours


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Carol Kerber
Carol is married with four kids, ranging in age from 7 to 17-years-old. She moved to St. Louis when she was 12, and except for four years living in Southern California as a newlywed, she's lived here since. Carol met her husband when they were both in high school in St. Louis. As a Mizzou graduate, Carol began her post-college career in publishing, and then switched gears to teach early elementary. Since having kids, she has been lucky enough to stay home with them. The Kerbers call Castlewood Stables in Ballwin their home. In addition, Carol has always loved to write but had never really given that dream wings until now. She is so inspired to be part of the St. Louis Moms Blog team!


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