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Dads2dads: Sending wrong signals

Tom Tozer and Bill Black • Updated May 20, 2018 at 6:00 PM

Grades. They are the stone in a student’s shoe … the irritating tag on the back of the shirt. Especially toward the end of a school year, grades are a big part of the pressure cooker in which students, teachers and administrators exist. They are a necessary evil, mostly evil to those students whose grade printouts look like alphabet soup.

Surrounded by nurses

Tom recalls his big F in human anatomy and physiology. What he was doing in a class with a bunch of nursing students was a mystery to him, although being surrounded by nursing students was really quite OK. The mystery plagued him throughout the entire semester – and gradually became his rationale for merely coasting. Finally, he earned his rightful place of distinction – at the bottom of the class. It was a meltdown for his grade-point average, and it seemed that his future was already in the past tense.

Or what about Bill’s own struggle with math and science? He created his own unique way of solving equations that, astonishingly, never corresponded to the answer the teacher had in mind.

If your teen gets good grades, count your blessings. However, we’re here to testify that an F in school should not be viewed as a terminal disease. Instead it should be a wake-up call to both you and your child.

Striving for the big F

One high school sophomore found himself lacking a science lab credit. Because the labs that appealed to him were filled, he got stuck in biology. He rationalized that he wasn’t going to be a doctor or a research scientist, so he decided to slack off and just get by.

But he did less than just get by. He came late to class. Occasionally he just blew it off all together. When he did attend, he found it more fascinating to sabotage the microscopes than to peer through them and learn something new. Or he would let his lab partner wade through the difficult stuff while he refined his drawings for art class. 

A sad epitaph for a bright future

The resulting F didn’t mean the student was dumb. It meant he didn’t care and didn’t try – both sad epitaphs for a young man who had counted on making the varsity team and winning a college scholarship. What a blotch on his permanent record, a blotch that could be a roadblock to other opportunities down the road.

Dad, take some time to help your teen understand one of life’s bittersweet realities. A big red F isn’t the end of the world, but it can be a loud signal to the college admission counselor, employer, scholarship committee, coach and others. Help your teen to see that influential people who don’t yet know your son or daughter won’t realize how regretful he or she may be about that toxic F. 

People often know us only by reading our signals. Stress the point to your children that they need to be careful about the signals they send.

Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of “Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers.” Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @dads2dadsllc. Contact them at tomandbill@dads2dadsllc.com.

 

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