School Starting - Should I force my boys to get As and Bs or punish?

June - posted on 08/11/2012 ( 7 moms have responded )

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My two boys 14 and 16 are smart, but last year they let their grades slip. Older one started off freshman year with honor roll, but by end of year got all Cs. Younger got A and Bs with one C. They have always got As and Bs before. My older has a girlfriend and totally let his grades slip for his social life. As a result I told him if he didn't get As and Bs only he would not be allowed to get a driver's license permit to learn how to drive. Should I do other things like take away social privileges? Should kids this age be made to come home for dinner every school night? Should I set aside an hour or so for homework each night or take away privileges if they don't? I really want my kids to go to college. When I was pregnant I set aside money for college and now it's fully funded, but they seem to have very little academic motivation. All comments welcome!! Being a parent is HARD.

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Angie - posted on 08/12/2012

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Since you know your boys are capable, I would continue to push for the better grades. One thing I did was allow for one difficult subject or hard-scoring teacher that I ok'd a C or D, but not failing. We fortunately had grades on-line so they had an important item, such as a cell phone or going out with friends, they sacrificed if the grades weren't there. Before on-line, they had to wait for progress reports/report cards, so they were VERY happy when we got on-line and grades being checked weekly = less time of lost privilege usually. One time my oldest tried to convince me C's were average and average is ok, but when I said he was an average driver, average bowler, average baseball player, average guitar player, etc, etc, he certainly was quick to disagree with me...lol...proving my point he pushed to be above average on things he was interested in.

If you've told him he can't have his permit unless his grades were better, you need to stick to that so they know you will follow through. One thing to keep in mind, most insurance companies give discounts for Honor Roll drivers...possibly something to use as an incentive?

Some parents pay for good grades...not something I ever did because 1) I couldn't afford to and 2) I didn't agree with paying them for something they were supposed to do...but I've seen some parents have success with it.

I think family time/home time is important. I don't know what your schedule is, but I do think dinner time is important; it's time to catch up & communicate on your day. I also think it's important to begin teaching them now how to balance their day/their responsibilities so they can manage it in their adult lives as well....If we went out with our friends all the time, how would our responsibilities suffer? So how can they balance their fun with their responsibilities?

I'm not sure how your schedule is, but maybe ok to hang out with friends after school, but home for dinner then time to review school work/get homework done/chores done before going back out with friends/girlfriend. If you know of any older kids, have your kids talk to them...school is the easy part & before they know it, it will be all over & then it's on to the hard life of being an adult. My oldest is almost 21 & would go back to grade school in a minute....if he knew then what he knows now....

It IS hard being a parent, but I can tell you from first-hand experience, it's ALL worth it. My oldest decided not to go to college, but works full-time. I can't tell you how proud I am of the responsible, considerate, & caring young man he has become...YES, the same one that I was pulling my hair out almost 4 years ago..lol. There is no handbook, there is no right or wrong...you just got to find out what works for you & sometimes...ok most times.. that's trial & error :)

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June - posted on 08/14/2012

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Thanks, Shawn. Nice to hear your story. I am trying the daily conversations about responsibility and balance. My older son just closes his eyes when I talk about this, but at least he listens and I end with thank you for listening so well, I appreciate it. I hope that my teens will take school seriously this year. They both don't know what they want to do when they grow up, and when asked if want to go to college they say I don't know. Crazy, because I always tried my hardest and got mostly As and cried if I had to miss school. My kids won't even consider AP because it is more work. They take the easy way. Luckily they are both smart so they still can get through with not too much work. But I don't know how to make them want to do well all on their own. Social life seems to be most important. Family meetings seem like a good idea. Maybe visits to coastal colleges would be a good way to spend a couple of weekends. We raised our kids next to the ocean, and I always fear that was a big fat mistake to place such emphasis on having fun.

Shawn - posted on 08/14/2012

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I am in exactly the same position with my 15 year old son. Last year, in grade 10 he achieved the good grades in the pre advance placement courses he took for first semester between 85%-95%. Then had his first girlfriend and felt it was his right to meet with her every day. He began missing assignments and not studying for unit tests. Naturally his grades plummeted. Over this summer I have laid down the law and outlined his priorities. He seems to have come around and promises to put his schoolwork and family obligations first, allowing his social life to fit into this existing structure. He has agreed to only take one A.P. level course per semester in order to lighten his workload. This was not his decision because his friends are in the A.P. courses. I am hoping that he will be motivated to work towards better grades this year because he has always wanted to go to university. We also have a RESP in place for his future educational goals. He knows that he does not get a cent of this unless he actually goes to university, and that he needs better grades for this. I do not know for sure if he will change back to the good student he was , but I am hesitant to bribe or threaten him since self-motivation is what he needs to develop. We are communicating regularly with family meetings. Educational goals is very much a part of the dialogue for both my teens. We have made the standards expectations clear, and so hopefully that will be enough. I will find out as this coming school year progresses. I would appreciate any further ideas or advice. (Yes...being a parent is very hard!)

June - posted on 08/13/2012

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Thanks for all your comments, ladies. You all are way better than a counselor! I wish I could make them get good grades like I did when I was in school. I worry about their future. I still am holding out on letting my 16 yr old son drive. If he is not responsible to get his homework in, I don't see that he is responsible enough to be behind a wheel. Since we are in biking, walking skateboarding distance from everything this will not be a huge hardship to delay driving. Besides he has not even been motivated enough to finish the computer class which allows him to apply for a permit. I will try and make them come home for dinner and homework during the weeknights.

Kristin - posted on 08/13/2012

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I think that it is totally ok to have your kids come home for dinner and set aside a homework time. My son who is 16 is not allowed to go to friends houses until his homework is all done. However you have to keep in mind it is their lives and education and you cannot force good grades. I let my son know the importance of school and ultimately it is up to him as to whether or not he wants a good career or not and his grades went from all A's in junior high to B's in hs as the curriculum is harder and he has to wo rk harder. I dont thgink it is fair to take awya driving privledges that wiull create resentment i think and will impede them to be independant

Jen - posted on 08/12/2012

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First, I would make sure that their grades are falling because they are being lazy and not because the material is too difficult. HS is harder than elementary or Jr High School, and it may be that your son(s) aren't capable of getting all As and Bs at that level. If they are getting Cs because they need help, get them some help (tutoring, whatever). If their social lives are bringing their grades down, then I would take away social privileges. Make them be at home as many school nights as you think is necessary, and allow them to earn nights out by keeping up with their schoolwork.

Tanya - posted on 08/11/2012

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Hi....You have to do what works for you....I'm sure all parents want their kids to strive in school but the bottom line is...you can't make them get a's and b's...that's something they have to want to get....taking things away from them may only make them rebel and fail on purpose...i suggest talking to your boys and letting them know the importance of an education....let them know....KNOW ONE WANTS TO BE WITH A DUMMY! BEST WISHES!!

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