Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Why I'll Let My Son Fail

Yesterday my son wanted to skip first hour.
He had a math test and - though he had spent a great deal of time studying Monday night - he didn't feel ready for the test. He wanted to stay home and have more time to study. But I said, "No."
In mock astonishment my son said, "You mean, you want me to fail? I'm going to fail this test!"
I didn't say anything. Because everything I wanted to say was stuff he wouldn't want to hear. So I just remained quiet and held my ground.
Within minutes, he walked out the door to go to school.

The answer to my son's question is "no".
No, I did not want him to fail his math test. But I was willing to let him fail it. Because, honestly? Monday night was the first time I have seen him study math in a very long time.
I know he goes to math class every day, and the teacher presents new information, and he gets assignments. Every day. And, every day he could take his math book out at home and study those new concepts until he has mastered them. Then, when test day came along there would be no need for a major cramming session the night before.
But my son chooses not to operate in that manner.
Instead, he waits until the last minute to try to understand these things he should have been learning for weeks.
Don't get me wrong. I am happy to help him with the understanding, and Monday night I went over several problems with him. As did his sister.
But I will not play a part in teaching him that doing things "last-minute" is the way to succeed. This boy is half way through his eleventh year of school. He knows about homework and testing and how to be prepared. I am finished hounding him about it. At this point, I'm leaving it up to him to decide how to prepare.
If he doesn't want to put effort into learning the material until the night before a test? Fine. But I am not going to allow him to skip first hour (or second, or third, or fourth...) so he can have extra time to learn the stuff he should have been learning all along. In that case, yes, I'll let him fail. Because I know when he gets out into the "real" world he isn't going to be able to skip whatever so he can try to prepare for that which he should have been preparing for a very long time.

It just doesn't work that way "out here".

I want to let my son fail now - while it's still safe for him to do so. Because I realize, in order for him to learn - it might require failure. Goodness knows, he won't learn from me and take my advice. He's a teenager, after all.
(I was a teen, too, you know. I remember thinking my parents knew nothing.)

So, there you have it. The reason I will let my son fail.
Because I love him, and I want him to learn how to succeed.



Leah @ Point Ministries said...

It seems that God does the same with us. Hard lessons usually stick better.

km said...

Thank you! I've been hearing too many stories of late where parents go in an complain to the math teacher that the test must have been too difficult. Their child needs extra time/a do-over/an easier test. It's ridiculous. And BRAVO for standing your ground. Your boy might not thank you for another 20 years though.

Karen Hossink said...

Leah - Yes, I suppose they do!

KM - In 20 years I wonder what messes those parents will be cleaning up...
I'll try to wait patiently for that "Thank you." ;)