Grade Failures Roll in This Time of Year, and Parents Need to Get a Grip


The academic semester is winding down, finals are on the way, and not every student is going to pass their classes. This is the time of year when the students who are behind and struggling learn the truth: the semester is a lost cause.

In a culture where academic achievement is lauded as the key to a successful, good life, failing creates a huge risk for emotional crisis.

Middle and high school kids who fail will be told they are ruining their futures.

College students who fail will risk academic probation or suspension, and a complete derailing of their career and life plans.

Failure at any stage leads to the belief, often accurately, that parents and educators will be disappointed beyond measure.

But here’s the thing: some kids are going to fail. Statistically, failure is quite normal. And not everyone is headed on the same path in life. Some kids are destined for Yale, but it’s not the place for everyone.

We adults need to loosen up when it comes to grades, achievement, college, and career. We need to accept that:

  1. Human minds come in many shapes and sizes, and all of them are important to the successful working of the whole of society. The worker who installs my new washing machine after a serious leak is just as vital to our society as the attorney that helps me draft a will.

  2. If everyone crowds into the same schools and careers, there’ll be gaps elsewhere. We are seeing this now, as tradespeople are dwindling and cities are full of college graduates who cannot find decent jobs.

  3. Failure is a normal part of life. Being disgusted when a kid brings home an “F” in Biology implies that failure is unacceptable. But failing is normal, and kids will experience it from time to time.

  4. Our unhealthy expectations and undue pressures are making our kids anxious and depressed. Record numbers of teens and college students suffer from anxiety and depression. Not only are kids more stressed than ever, their stress is dangerous. The suicide rate is up. The kids are not all right, and the cultural pressure for top tier achievement is contributing.

So if failures comes, it’s time for the adults to get a grip. Sometimes failures are going to happen. Lets make them opportunities for growth.

Posted on November 26, 2018 .