Attention Kids: Grades Are NOT Everything

I think kids should work hard, use their talents and take school seriously. But more than anything, I want my kids to learn how to learn.
05/23/2012 02:08 pm ET Updated Jul 23, 2012

I asked my high school son if he had an idea about a topic for me to write about today.

"How about grades?" he threw out.

I immediately wished I hadn't asked his opinion. He's smack in the middle of preparing for finals next week. And the only thing on his mind are grades. Why couldn't he suggest nuclear fissure? Or thermal conductivity? Anything but my thoughts on grades. You see I really don't worry (AND AN IMPORTANT SPOILER ALERT TO SOME PARENTS: You may not want your kids reading this!) all that much about grades. I think they are grossly over-emphasized. And sure, maybe if I had a kid bombing out of biology or tanking in trigonometry, I might feel differently. But trust me, I have had plenty of past experiences with kids who crash and burned a test or simply struggled for a semester in a sticky subject.

And while I always try to support and encourage my kids, I don't over-react to their GPA or class ranking. They are just grades (and a special shout-out to my oldest son. Yes, I know I threatened to send you away to a military school when you were 15 if you didn't get your scholastic act together. What can I say? I was young. You were my guinea pig. Sorry, pal.)

Maybe age and experience are finally sinking in. Or maybe I'm just old. Maybe I've just heard one too many kids so stressed that they think a "C" in calculus is going to crumble their prospects for the future. And I'm tired of it.

Let me be clear. I think kids should work hard, use their talents and take school seriously.

But more than anything, I want my kids to learn how to learn. To enjoy the educational process. I want them to be exposed to interesting teachers. I want them to love learning. I want them to be open to others' ideas. And mostly, I want them to enjoy the journey they are on.

So, son, if you don't mind taking off that 40-pound backpack of books and homework, I'd love to pat you on the back. I'd like you to know that I am proud of you for many reasons. I'm proud that your teachers tell me that you are a joy to have in their class. I am proud to hear that you help other kids. I'm proud to know you to be a young man with an inquisitive mind and a challenging spirit. I'm proud that you laugh. And that you don't take everything so seriously.

I'm proud to have you as my child.

Please remember that your grades are just one indicator of success.

Do me a favor, will you? Somewhere in your intense study schedule over the next week, take a break every now and then.

And enjoy being a kid.

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