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What are some of the most damaging lessons you can teach a child?
Parent bursts into my classroom after report cards are issued and yells,”Why doesn’t my child have all A’s ?!?”
I calmly get a blank report card out of my desk, (parent is not quite aware yet of what I am doing) and I fill out the child’s name, class, grade, and under each subject, I write:
Math: A, Reading: A, Science: A, History: A+ (why not … I think I’ll throw some A+’s in there) Geography: A+, Spelling: A+, Music/Gym: A+++
Then I hand it to the parent and say, “There. Your child now has the highest of grades! All A’s. Congratulations.”
Usually, I’ve made my point. There is about a one or 2-minute period of awkward silence between us. A few have risen from their chair and left with the report card (it is not a valid card … the original grades are recorded in their file in the office) but most slide the card back on my desk and sit there sheepishly.
One of the most damaging things a parent can do to a child is demand perfect marks and then tie their love for their child based on their grades.
It happened to me growing up, and I knew how awful it felt to not feel loved according to my grades. My parents still loved me, but it sure didn’t feel like it. I had good grades, but apparently not good enough.
I made sure my own children never felt that way (I did, however, expect they do the best they could), and my students always knew I cared for them no matter their grades.
Once those parents finished their initial anger, we had a discussion in which I offered tips for helping their child improve in school.
I knew why many wanted their child to have high marks. In our area, bragging among family and friends on whose child was “better or best” was not based on who the child was inside, but what their grades were.
That’s just plain wrong.
I knew how awful it felt to not feel loved according to my grades.
Therefore, I would always offer these tips:
Do you have a set time of study each night for your children? During that time, are all electronics turned off except what is needed for study?
Do you have a place for your child to study, such as the kitchen table or a desk? Is there plenty of light? Do they have the supplies they need? Have they had dinner or a healthy snack? Children can’t do their best while hungry.
Do you demand or yell,”Go do your homework!” every night? Or are you available to quiz them on their spelling words or math tables? Learning is a family activity. Parents should be proud to be a part of their child’s education. Not only that, parents can learn right along with their child. Learning really is fun.
Do you keep a large chart made for your child where they can record when quizzes, tests, and projects are due? Even weekly spelling tests can be written on this school chart along with field trips, teacher-parent conferences, and school photos. The whole family can participate and record their own important deadlines, as well as school topics, on this chart.
Your child’s education is your education. Their marks reflect your guidance, not your pride. Many parents have busy day jobs, but hey, we are shaping lives here. This is extremely important. Love them for trying their very best. If that ends up having the highest marks, great. But if it does not, be proud for them and the whole family for working as a loving team.
If our children can’t count on us for support, believe me when I say they will find it somewhere else … and it may not be the kind of “support” that’s safe for your child’s mind and body. It may just be the kind of support that ruins their lives.
Rebecca Baldwin has been a special needs educator for over 20 years. You can read more from Quora below: