Bad Grades and My Obvious Lack of Parenting Skills.
Recently I was asked what a good punishment was for a child who brought home a bad report card. I do believe that this person wanted a quick answer, such as taking away a privilege or putting them on restrictions of some sort. Unfortunately, they asked me. I do not believe that punishment for a bad grade is always necessary nor do I believe that in the grand scheme of things that a bad grade is that important. By stating, such I opened myself up for quite a bit of debate and attacked by others in the forum. Folks were really upset that I would think a bad grade was not that big of a deal.
I heard how it teaches kids discipline, to work for their goals, to understand that life isn’t all fun and games and that the only way to get ahead in life was through a good education blah, blah, blah. To those allegations, I say au contraire mon ami.
I should tell you that I have two children, a boy and a girl. Both are all growned up and neither one of them are drug addicts, axe murderers, gang bangers or banes to society in any way. In fact, both are doing very well in their prospective careers, (one runs a Veterinary Hospital and one is a professional Computer Geek) and both are productive members of society. They are also two very different people. Growing up my daughter was a child who for some reason would get very upset if she got a bad grade, which was a B in her mind. My son, could care less, he always did very well on his exams, usually the one setting the curve, but could care less about homework, therefore, received lower grades.
For me, getting good grades wasn’t as important as the try. Did you try? When my child brought home a report card that contained a bad grade, my first thought was not that they did not try though. My first thought and question to them was why? Did you get it because you didn’t understand the subject? Was it is something in the way it was taught, is comprehension the issue? Or was it because you didn’t try? Not trying or giving up was worse in our house.
Which brings me to punishment. Why? Why punish a bad grade? First of all, grades are not always good indicators of learning. Many teachers grade on a curve. As I am told, to be fair. Fair shmair. The result of just plain good ole retention is what the indicator of a grade is. It is not always a good indicator of comphrension. In my daughters case, she got good grades because she did all of the work, in my sons case he got excellent test results but a bad grade cause he wouldn’t do all of the work. I did not punish the grade. As stated above it was the not trying that got “punishment”. And what was that punishment? Well it was an expression of my disappointment. Yep that is it. Nothing more. I didn’t take away their video games or television or going out to play or put them in solitary in their rooms for a week.
As to taking away stuff, how silly is that? You give them things and then take them away when they displease you. Things should be earned. They should be a reward for doing good, not something that is given and then used against them. Take video games. You allow them free play until they doing something wrong then you take it away until they earn it back. Doesn’t make sense to me. How about they earn play time that cannot be taken away. Can you imagine going to work for a week and just around payday your boss tells you sorry but we don’t like your attitude and you didn’t get that report done so we are going to hold your check until you straighten up.
The thing that sticks in y mind the most though is that good grades are not the most important thing in your kid’s life. Although it will help them get into college and possibly help have a better chance at monetary success, it is not the thing I was worried about teaching my kids. I was more worried about teaching my kids that every action has a consequence. Good action=good consequence (like play time on the video game or your best friend staying the night) Bad action=bad consequence (like a bad grade or your best friend never talking to you again). That doing the right thing is more important than getting the right thing. That your word is your worth and your worth is your word is a more important lesson to learn. How to be a good person that was more important than how to get good grades and how to get to college (by the way, it is said that the A students will always be able to work for the C students).