Instead of Asking About Grades, Ask Your Kid if They Did More of This…

Today in a “college freshman parents” Facebook group, a little discontent broke out. It occurred after a very proud parent posted a picture of her son’s fall grades. She was beaming through the keyboard I am sure, sharing the good news of a 4.0 during “his first time away from home!”

I think it’s great that her son kicked academic butt this fall. And if you’re the type to share those kinds of personal achievements in a social media parent’s group, hey, that is great!

Helping friend
We should ask our kids if they’ve helped a friend lately (Iakov Filimonov/ Shutterstock)

But after that initial grade sharing post, plenty more of the same followed, until one parent chimed in with, “I thought this was a support group for parents, not a bragging group?”

I hear you mom. I hear you loud and clear.

Like many others, I too am concerned with the grades my college kids are receiving, but maybe the years have wised me up a little, because my perspective on their success is not what it once was. While I think it is great that her student was able to master Calculus this fall while doing his own laundry for the first time, I’d like to know if he also did some of this…

Did he sit with a roommate or dorm neighbor who was homesick? Did he calm them down, make them laugh, join them for dinner, or walk to the library with them, all while knowing he had studying to do himself, but remedying their sadness was more important?

Did she offer to stay sober and take care of and drive around drinking friends, making sure all got home safe, nobody left alone with a stranger, and nobody binge drank to the point of illness?

Did she take class notes for a sick roommate?

Did he smile and give a nod of thanks every night to the dining hall cook or server for making his dinner?

Did she remove someone’s clothes from the dryer and fold them, not just toss them in a ball atop the machine?

Did she take out the room’s garbage without being asked, even when it’s not her assigned room chore?

Did he share the giant care package he got in the mail with the rest of his floor?

Did she take a friend to the health center, then the pharmacy, then bring her dinner when she was sick?

Did he walk a girl home at night who had lost her friends and found herself alone?

There is no report card for any of that.

There is no grading rubric for being a decent human being.

Parents, it’s awesome you’re proud of your kid’s grades! Shout it to the world!

But it’s also awesome to remember that a semester transcript does not define a life, or even a portion of it.

An “A” in calculus is great, but a metaphorical “A” in kindness, graciousness, and unselfishness is, well, you can’t put a grade on that kind of success.

The writer wishes to remain anonymous.


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Here’s Why I’ve Stopped Looking At My Teen’s Grades Online

Great Kid with Average Grades? Don’t Worry And Here’s Why

About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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