We only had 2 house rules for the kids by the time they were teenagers. Those 2 rules were enough to raise them to be respectful, happy successful kids.
They also remember their childhood as mostly positive.
Rule #2: Get the Grades you are Capable of Getting
Mom, You Must Be Kidding
I told my kids, “If you can only handle one rule, make it rule number one, Respect the Mother.” By the time I had figured this out, my oldest son was a teenager and the younger one was almost a teenager.
When I told them the two rules, one of my sons could not believe it. He looked at me with the disgust only a teenager is capable of. Then he said with disbelief and a “gotcha” tone, “So you would rather I get Bs and be nice than get As and not be nice?”
My answer was, “Absolutely. More people lose their jobs because they cannot get along with others than because they cannot do the job. And here, I am the people you need to get along with.”
Besides, I thought, I need to survive the next few years until you, as what I hope will be a fully functioning adult, move out.
Why is rule number two “Get the grades you are capable of getting”?
First of all, it is important to be aware of a child’s abilities when you are expecting something of them, so no specific grade is mentioned.
Actually, when I told my kids to get the grades they were capable of getting, both of my sons had higher expectations for themselves than their father or I had for them. Being competitive is part of boys’ nature.
Telling kids to get the grades they are capable of getting allows them to compete with themselves to be the best they can be. For that reason, I am and always have been against paying for grades.
As parents, we wanted the motivation for good grades to be an internal motivation. I wanted them to strive to get good grades because they wanted to do their best, not to earn money or to please someone else.
We did sometimes celebrate good grades with pizza or ice cream, and by the time they were in college, a congratulations message or card might be the recognition for an accomplishment.
Developing an intrinsic sense of self-satisfaction for a job well done is an important life skill. In the adult world, we often are not told “Good job.” No news is usually good news.
Product or Process
Getting the grades one is capable of getting is more about the process than the product. However, if your process is sound you will have a good product. By that I mean if you look at the product you only notice the letter grade. I am less concerned about the letter grade than the process and good decisions needed to accomplish good grades.
Two of the most important questions about the process are: Does your child know how to study? and Does your child know how to set priorities and organize his or her time?
It is important that adults have the skill to balance work and play. It is something most of us continue to work at most of our lives. To be a well-functioning adult, one needs to have at least a minimum skill in this area.
Related: Free Summer Reading Challenge
Straight-A Student Flunks Out of College
If you set your kids up for academic success, it should follow them from high school into college. But there are some special considerations to ensure their continued success.
I have worked with many very intelligent college-age people who dropped out or flunked out of college. Initially, I found this shocking. It had never occurred to me that a student who got mostly As might flunk out of college.
I spent a fair amount of time reflecting on how to avoid this horrible fate for my own children. Many smart people have failed college because they were attending college only due to pressure from their parents.
It was not their own dream. Help your child focus their dreams by not pushing them to live a life you wish you would have lived.
Another common reason for not finishing college was the students were so bright that they had never had to put much effort into getting good grades.
Once in college, they did not know how to study or they miscalculated the amount of time it would take to do assignments and procrastination got the better of them.
Utilizing advanced placement classes or taking college classes in high school can be helpful in this case. If a child needs little time to study and still gets good grades, extracurricular activities or jobs are good uses of free time.
A third pitfall is drugs or alcohol. Having good decision-making skills, good stress-management skills, a vision of a successful adult life, and not too much discretionary income are all useful for avoiding alcohol and drug abuse.
What would you add to the #2 rule? If you found this post helpful, please share it, because sharing is caring.
Hi, I’m Tamara the creator of Empowered Single Moms, a single mom, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and the author of Thriving a Single Mom’s Guide to a Happy, Positive Life and Thriving a Single Mom Journal. I have a solo private psychotherapy practice where I treat anxiety, depression, and relationship issues.
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