Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Excuse me while I get on my soapbox...

This has been irking me all day, so I need to write it out.

First, a little background...

I was a straight-A student. I had higher than a 4.0 grade average. I was my class valedictorian.

I'm not saying that so you can all applaud me. Yay for Jennifer. Whatever. School was easy for me, I didn't struggle. So I'll admit that contributes greatly to my opinion.

So, on Cafemom, a friend of mine asked a question: Would you get upset if your child brought home a C? My answer is that yes, I would. Unless I knew that my child had tried, had studied, done their homework, etc., I would be upset.

I was blown away by how many other mothers were upset that some of us would be disappointed in a C. Upset as in angry. One mother said that our children would hate us and accused us of expecting our children to be perfect. As is the norm on Cafemom, it was ugly.

This bothers me. Oh, how it bothers me. I am wrong because I hold my child to higher expectations than average? I just can't fathom that someone wouldn't want their child to strive to be above average. It's not like I'm going to give them 50 lashes for a C. If Olivia gets to high school and is a social butterfly, passing notes, talking on the phone non-stop, and I never see her crack a book at home, yes, I absolutely will NOT be content with a C. If I see her do homework every night, if she asks for help on assignments and she still brings in a C, no I would not be upset. Disappointed, yes. I can't help that. I never, ever made a C. But if C is the best she can do, I will accept it without making her feel bad about it. There is a difference between being disappointed in a grade and being disappointed in my child.

Why is it wrong of me to feel this way? Why is is wrong of me to hold my children to a higher standard than average? Yes, I realize not every student can be a straight A student. But why would you not even try? Why would you not encourage your child in that direction?

I think it's a huge problem with kids today... we don't hold them to higher standards so they don't try. And then we try to level the playing field so they don't feel bad. Oh, we have to give all the Little League kids trophies so that they don't feel like failures. No, you teach them that they will lose sometimes and that it's OK if they tried. Not that you get a trophy no matter what.

I've heard people say they want to do away with Fs in school because it damages kids' self esteem. Are you serious? It should damage your self esteem to fail a class. Because, and this is just my opinion, there are very few times (there are exceptions, I'm sure) that you fail a class that it couldn't have been avoided by either doing the work involved or getting help with something you had difficulty with. In life, if you don't work for something or get help when you need it - YOU FAIL. Sheltering your children from failure is NOT the answer.

What happens years from now to all the kids who have been sheltered from failure? They either get a terrible wake up call in the real world when they fall flat on their faces or we level the playing field and just have a world of mediocre, average joes. No one striving for greatness. No one pushing themselves to the limit.

I know that not everyone's talents lay in academics. Maybe Olivia will be the lead in all the school plays. Maybe Isabelle will win ribbons in art competitions. I will be proud of all their accomplishments. But I will never let them flake out on academics. If they are average students, fine - as long as they have tried. If you don't shoot for the moon, you'll never land in the stars. Or however the saying goes.


  1. Well done my friend!! You have a gift for the box! We are staring down the barrel at speech impediments and possible dyslexia the severity of which is yet TBD. I know already that my children are going to have challenges in school but you can bet your tail that I am not going to allow them to settle. They will bust and I will bust right along side them to make them the best they can be!

    And that's why we are the bestest mom's on the planet!

  2. Ooooh!!! I love it!!! Even though I'm childless...and probably don't deserve an opinion, I am 100% with you.

    I've seen it on the news a few times here in Australia about how the first bunch of trophy for trying kids are starting to hit the workplace. Bosses are saying its a nightmare.



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