From A’s to C’s – What To Do When Your Kid Kicks Homework to the Curb
I’m what I like to call an academic overachiever. From the time I began school, I was an ideal student. I studied vigorously and handed projects in on time. I was the consummate student from elementary straight through college. Hence, as a parent of two of the brightest and most gifted children alive, I expected nothing less from my children. While I never demanded perfection or stellar grades from my dynamic duo I did stress that I would not accept less than their best, regardless of where “best” fell on the grade spectrum.
So, you can imagine my shock when my teenage son started bringing home C’s D’s and some F’s after having A’s months earlier. As a parent, my “fear-dar” brought all sorts of scenarios to mind: bullying, peer pressure, trauma, depression, etc. You name it, I thought it.
As hard as it was, I pushed fear aside and confronted my son about his sudden change in grade performance. Here’s what he said: My teachers all know I’m capable of ‘A’ work– I’ve proven that much. So, why should I work hard? I can easily pass this class with a B- or C, and I don’t even have to try. And I don’t want too, either. What’s the big deal?
What the what?! Who was this young man and what did he do with my son? I resisted the urge to ground him, yell at him or even give him the “education is essential” speech. Instead, here’s what I did.
- I prayed. Why?Because as a parent, we internalize the rights or wrongs of our children tending to blame ourselves for their decisions. It was impossible for me to help my son from a position of anger or guilt–it would only lead to compromise or watered down solutions.
- I shared. There were many times in my life where I wanted to embrace mediocrity and live like “everybody else.” But I didn’t. So, I shared that with him. I was honest and I talked about several of my internal struggles. To say he was shocked would be an understatement. As parents, we cannot be afraid to humanize ourselves. We’re flesh and blood and we struggle–don’t hide that from your children.
- I gave. Mediocrity is subtle. It pretends to be harmless but in the end, it can be deadly–to your destiny and your dreams. So, I decided to fight by giving him more of what would make the world of difference–my time. For 8 weeks I labored with him. If he was up late, so was I. When he saw that I–who worked full-time, cooked and was the family chauffeur–was willing to do whatever it took to see him through to the other side–his attitude toward mediocrity began to shift.
- I praised. Taking on mediocrity is no easy task especially when it becomes habit. By himself, he didn’t stand a chance; but with Mom in the mix, mediocrity was on borrowed time. Every time he choose to study over “zoning out” I was right there, ready with a praise. Whether it was studying early for an exam or organizing his homework folder, I praised him for a job or task well done.
In the end, His grades turned around and were even better than he thought they would be. But what changed the most was how proud he was of himself. He proved to himself that nothing was impossible. His new found pride and triumph spilled over into other things. He began to recognize the importance of hard work, helping others in need and he saw the fruit of prayer and wisdom.
It was a difficult 8 weeks. Being a solo parent, working full-time as well as doing all of the other mommy duties, proved to be taxing on the psyche and the nerves. But, since I’m a believer in the impossible, I owed it to myself and to my son, to put my hands and my faith to work. Piece of cake…..NOT! But totally worth it.
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