YOUR GRADES ARE FOR YOU, NOT FOR ME.
What prompted my post today was part of a radio interview I heard this morning with the title: The Blessing of a B minus, by Wendy Mogel Ph.D. I happened to turn on my radio when she talked about how many parents expect their kids to get straight A’s, be on the varsity team, put in ridiculous hours of community service, belong to numerous clubs, and of course, it doesn’t hurt to be slender and good looking, all in the hopes of getting admitted to a great college.
Mogel’s book, which I have not read, is based on Jewish teachings, but that was not the focus of my post. I was interested in what she had to say about, not every kid fits the mold, and parents should not expect the same for each kid. I know that many parents want their kids to excel in Academics, but it really is a pity that we do not seem to value other professions, such as trade schools as much.
As a child, one of the best gifts I received from my parents was to realize that my grades were not a gift to please them, but to please me.
The reason I bring this up is because I see too many parents either bribing their kids with money to improve their grades, or rewarding them for getting good grades with purchases. I disagree with this. Please don’t take what I say to the other extreme of saying, “Kids deserve something for doing well in school.” Everyone deserves something once in a while, it’s just the “bribing” that I dislike.
When my sixteen-year-old son told me he didn’t do well on a test but did well on his homework, I said, “I thought homework was supposed to make you learn what’s on your test, ” and left it up to him to figure it out.
I know many of you live around the world and different parts of the U.S., and I’m curious to hear your thoughts, whether you’re a parent, a grandparent, or without kids.
I think it depends on the child.My one son does well in school because he knows its the right thing to do. My other son is lazy and even though he very smart, he does the minimal. We have given him money for grades and that hasnt worked so we are now on the next phase, taking things away. The problem with that? He doesnt study any more than before, he just wastes his time doing something else. My fear for him is that when he "wakes up" he is going to be behind. If anyone has any advice, I would appreciate it..Funny you mention this topic, its been bothering me and my husband..
Miss Footloose says
I agree with you, Sonia. Bribing does not send a good message.
We never had homework trouble with our 2 daughters. They knew it was their responsibility to do it. It did not occur to them not to do it, or not to do well in school. We gave help when needed, and structure, and fortunately they were both smart and had no trouble.
Then we added a son to the family, and he had learning problems, and NOTHING we did helped — encouragement, positive reinforcement, punishment, bribes, tutoring. He didn't want to do his homework. Period. He had such a sense of failure, he didn't even want to try.
Normally though, in any part of child rearing, bribing is not a constructive method to get anything done.
Every child is different, even when they are from the same set of parents. And every child has varying levels of capabilities in different areas. The oldest might be gifted in math and struggles in writing. While the next one excels in writing and can't add 2 and 2. The third one can tear an engine apart and put it back together like a genius, but can't concentrate on anything academic.
Children need to be encouraged to pursue their strengths. Of course, they can't ignore their weaknesses, but a child can be coached in those areas where they need help. If my son can outsmart a veteran mechanic, then why should he be pressured to get an A in something he isn't gifted in.
My grown son wanted nothing to do with academic work in school. He got average grades. But he was gifted with his hands, and was a star student in the carpentry program in high school. He now owns his own construction business, and is doing better financially than you and I. His older sister was the academic whiz, tops in her graduating class, has a college degree, and now she earns an average salary in an average job.
So much for grades, huh?
There is though a HUGE difference in girls and boys you can't ignore…
Karyn Climans says
I firmly believe that it's important for each child to discover his/her special skills and interests. We certainly don't need a world full of rocket scientists. We need bus drivers & plumbers & doctors & entrepreneurs etc. What's right for one kid is not necessarily right for another. Our job as parents is to expose our kids to a variety of opportunities so that they can explore and discover what makes them happy.
I'd say that most kids don't fit the mould… it is the mould that squeezes kids to fit it, unfortunately.
Tests are usually a way of seeing how much you remember… they are not necessarily a good way of seeing how much you have learnt or how clever you are.
I have 3 sons and all are different. Oldest was getting in trouble, we got him back on track by uprooting him from CA and moving to Belize: my memoir. Second one is self-motivated. Last one found his place as a Junior in high school at a military school he picked. So my advice is sometimes their school may not be the right environment. Ask them what they think would motivate them to work. And as Miss Footloose says, some kids don't seem to know.
I can see how there are some kids where no matter what you do, does not seem to work. But you tried it all.
So true. I know they are all different with my 3 sons. See my comment to Anonymous above.
True, but there are also differences among three sons. See my comment above.
I totally agree with your advice. hence my youngest son found that the military high school suits his personality. Thanks for your comment.
Oklahoma City CityMommy says
What a timely post! I suspended my teen stepdaughter from her cellphone for having a "D" in English and an "F" in History. The conversation went like this:
Me, "Your grades are YOUR responsibility."
Her, "Then why are you punishing me?"
Me, "It's not a punishment, it's a consequence."
Basically, I don't care what grades you get, but that doesn't mean there is not a consequence for getting bad grades!
She's a smart girl that gets good grades when she does her work – but the last couple of weeks, she hasn't turned anything in.
We have used nominal rewards (card packs) for our son's grades. We wanted to be sure he still had all options open to him by the time he finally "clued in." That happened last year when he was a junior. He started to realize that he wasn't doing this to please Mom and Dad or get the reward, but it was all about later on: college, career, etc. He set his own personal goals, and our rewards became incidental.
I've heard that boys usually don't "get it" until about age 15. PW
Great subject. Has anyone had a chance to see the documentary "Waiting for Superman"? I've heard it takes a hard look at public schools and why they have so much money but such poor performance and never seem to change. It is made by the director of "An Inconvenient Truth."
@Oklahoma City Mommy
Thanks for your comment. This reminds me of when my oldest son got 4 D's, in his freshman year. He had a girlfriend and no longer cared. In our case, things got worse, so we uprooted our family of five, sold everything and moved to Belize.
I'm happy to hear that he decided to work for himself. Thanks for sharing.
I didn't think it was coming out until later. Is the movie out now? I'd like to see it.
I agree with you Sonia.
I have two sons, totally different.
I have a sister, we're totally different.
So it's a personal and age/growing up issue how a child takes his/her school work.
A vocational school is an excellent choice for a kid who doesn't know what/where to study. It's better to learn a profession and continue studying after that if he/she has the motivation.
Greetings from Casa! 🙂
Unfortunately I do not hear of many vocational school here in southern California. Perhaps it's more of a European thing.
Robert the Skeptic says
I was never a high achiever in school, it was tough for me. But one time I heard the dean at my college speak. He said he always admonished the professors to "… be kind to your A and B students, for they may return to the university to teach. But also be kind to your C and D students, as they may return to the university and fund a $2 million dollar extension to the science building."
Penelope J. says
What an interesting piece. I do believe that too many parents push their kids too much to get good grades, thus causing stress, tension, family problems, and even despair for some kids. While good grades are important, so is youth. Young people should be able to enjoy their youth and not be stressed out over getting good grades. The opposite is also true. Some kids have too much of a good time and don't care about their grades.
Personally, I don't understand what is happening with American kids today. Both my sister and I had excellent grades without anyone forcing us – it was a matter of pride – and a great time socially. We both worked part-time and I managed to write a couple of full-length books as well as read a lot. Of course, there were no technological distractions.
Interesting topic, and one that I'm enormously conflicted about. I was valedictorian of my class and raised to achieve, achieve, achieve!! So I naturally tend to push my 3 kids (9,11,13) that way as well. Trouble is, they don't have the same tendencies. It's a constant battle for me to keep telling myself your title: Your grades are for you, not for me.
I think you are brave to admit this, and I commend you for it. As you know, with three kids, each one is different. I also have 3 boys, and they were all 3 different. I have seen cases where it backfires when a parent pushes a kid too hard, and then they rebel and refuse to work. Kids want to please their parents, especially if they know they can trust them and receive love from them. My youngest, 16, is finally showing an interest in school, and that's because we listened to him and sent him to a military Academy, which is where he wanted to go. He did not fit in a regular high school environment, and is now thriving. So, kids figure it out, and as long as you show your kids you love them, and their work is for their own future, not for yours, they will take responsibility, sooner or later.
Pressure to achieve in school is enormous. Competition to excel,
what others think of you if you fail, all play into the child's attitude.
The promise to gift a child for his performance is wrong. Maybe praising a child more often on what he/she is good at, even if it isn't school related, would help bolster the child's self image.
My two adult children always performed at different levels, but Tom and I always praised them for their own abilities.
I used to feel I didn't push my kids enough in school. As most parents we made mistakes. But, now that they're grown and have kids of their own I realize we must have done some things right… they are great parents and more importantly, great people.
Your title says it all.
Thanks for the post!