For many teenagers it is about the “like.” If the “like” is present, the marks will follow. If the like is not evident, the effort is not evident. In fact, excuses are often given. For example, a mark of a 50% or lower, sits in print on the report card, as a testament of the indifference.
Mark, 18 years old, has a penchant for writing and the arts. He also seeks to find short cuts in his learning to the point of justifying his decisions to suit his circumstances. However, Mark’s approach, like many, is rooted in the instantaneous world of the “NOW.”
Although Mark is gifted in the area of dramatic arts, he is also gifted in “weaving tales” and of taking minimal responsibility for his learning. For example, Mark complained of being tired all the time. His mother suggested a B12 supplement, as her other children were taking it for sleep issues. When probed, Mark admitted to staying up until 12:30/1 a.m. (up at 6:30). He disclosed having his phone nearby and “on” all night; Mark felt that it was important for him to be available to his friends at a moment’s notice. Mark’s school demands included a double curriculum as well as being involved in all areas of drama productions.
In regards to dropping science with a mark in the 60s, Mark explained that he wanted to only pursue his passion and that it was his passion that would allow him to be an intellectual and associate with those with a similar mindset. Mark continued to say that he could have done better in science, had he hired a tutor and applied himself. However, Mark felt that there was no need to learn what everyone was learning as it offered no guarantee of getting him anywhere in the future. Additionally, Mark wanted his learning to be driven by him. He did not like the idea of having to learn because it was being imposed. While Mark did not drop science altogether, he did drop down to the applied level in order to avoid the workload and having to push himself.
Although Mark was athletic and good at baseball, he refused to devote the time and effort to improve his game. Practicing was not part of his vocabulary. His coaches all had shared the same sentiment: good athlete, but no motivation.
Each and every parent knows the game of manipulation. What is painfully clear is the need for parents to know their children and their habits and guide them in realizing their full capacity. It is simply not good enough to hand over full control to our children and hope they will make the correct decisions for their future. Often parents engage in listening to the rhetoric. It sounds good. It sounds convincing.
Mark’s parents gave him too much freedom and control. They did not want to upset him; however, in doing so, Mark only achieved short-term solutions, with long-term implications. Possessing no interest in working towards singles, resulted in Mark aborting that part of his life entirely for green, more instantaneous pastures.
Parents must relieve children from “going it alone” and be actively involved in their educational lives. Who cares if the child becomes agitated or claims he/she is not being heard?! In their world, not being heard means not getting their way. Once the child understands that the parent is there to guide and direct, then a realistic plan can be accomplished and “buy-in” achieved. The line will be drawn and good habits will ensue.
Instilling responsibility creates a “win/win” scenario and parents must embrace this responsibility. Alternatively, the absence of responsibility taking will create losing ways, chaos and larger tantrums.