The Big F

Grades. They are the stone in a student’s shoe … the tag on the back of the shirt that constantly irritates. With such mandates as “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top,” 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 print-outs look like alphabet soup.

Surrounded by Nurses

Tom recalls his big F when he was a college freshman. What he was doing in Human Anatomy and Physiology with a bunch of nursing students was a mystery to him (although being surrounded by nursing students was really quite okay). 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 GPA, and, at the time, it seemed that his future was already in the past tense.

If your teenager gets good grades in school, count your blessings. However, we’re here to remind all parents 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 son or daughter.

What the Heck Anyway

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 challenging 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. When his class ended, he achieved his big red F.

A Sad Epitaph for a Bright Future

The F didn’t mean he was dumb. It meant he didn’t care and didn’t try at all—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 you teenager understand one of life’s bittersweet realities. A big red F isn’t the end of the world, but it can be a loud and clear signal to people who play an important part in his or her future—the college admission counselor, employer, scholarship committee, coach and others. Help your teenager 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 … or that bad-conduct report or that poor-attendance record.

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.

By dads2dads