“I realized he thinks I’m stupid.” Joe, a sophomore from Old Lyme, CT said. He had received a poor report card in 10th grade. His Dad, following the current version of the good parent playbook, said “as long as you did your best.” His Dad is a nice guy. Indeed, I probably would say the same if one of my children faced a similar challenge.
The problem is not the encouragement and the kindness that is wonderfully pervasive among parents today. I had a mother who literally looked at my report card of 5 As and an A- and said: “why the A-?” That is definitely not the way. But platitudes – sweet but insincere comments – do not really serve the child in the long run. Joe did not give it his best. He wanted help to do better. That’s why we were meeting. Despite his poor effort, he understood that he had do well junior year if he wanted to attend BC or BU or Northeastern, his three favorite schools as he was eager to head to Boston. He also understood that he didn’t feel good when he did poorly, even if his parents were understanding.
There is a middle ground between “we love you regardless” (awesome) and “you really disappointed us” (not awesome).
Guidance and assistance.
“We love you regardless. How do you feel about your grades? Do you want to improve? How can we help you do so?”
We can help in that regard.