Last week a podcaster that I follow asked for topic suggestions/ Q&A questions (in the working mom/parenting genre). I’ve had something on my mind lately that I truly think would make for a very interesting podcast episode:
“How do you handle it when your child is not just like you?”
In general, I think we can all agree that it can be frustrating when people don’t respond or act in the way WE might (the, you know, right way). 😉 But when it’s our own child acting in a way that we maybe just can’t even understand or relate to, it can be complicated…
This has been on my mind in relation to the boys’ attitudes toward school and homework. The end of the 1st quarter is nearing already (what? HOW??!), so school is well underway.
Ethan, specifically, just doesn’t seem to approach school in the way that I did when I was in school. Don’t get me wrong- he is a good student. His grades seem to be great so far and he actually seems to be stepping it up in middle school here too. I’m proud!
BUT. I’m seeing some major differences in his “student style” compared to what mine was, and this has been a struggle for me sometimes.
Student Me vs. Student Ethan
Student me: Pay close attention in class. Write everything down in my assignment notebook. Maybe confirm with the teacher that I have the homework pages down correctly. Make SURE that I do my homework every night, and probably the “optional” extra questions too. STUDY thoroughly for every test, probably a bit to excess. I need to be ready! Study a little more in the morning during breakfast or on the bus, just to be sure.
Student Ethan: I don’t need to write anything down. There was only one assignment today, and I remember it. Work diligently in class/ study hall to complete all work at school so I don’t have to bring anything home- who likes homework?! And why bring it home if I can finish it at school? Study for bigger tests as needed, but this just involves mostly reading over my notes a few times as I have a kind of freakishly good memory. Have my mom quiz me a few times and wrap it up. Smaller quiz tomorrow? Oh, I already know all of that stuff. No need to waste time studying again, since I already know it. It’ll be fine.
Gahhhhhhh! He is so different from me in this way that I just don’t even know what to do. I don’t want to micromanage him, and I KNOW I need to “let him test the waters” a bit to find his own style…. And he’s not totally wrong. If the point is to know the stuff for the test, and you do, and you ace the test, was it necessary to study more?? I guess not. But it just feels completely foreign to me.
The logical part of my brain says I probably need to back off a little (assuming that he is keeping up/ doing well) and let him learn by fire. He might learn naturally that his laidback system doesn’t quite hold up to the rigors of middle and high school (and maybe mom was right!). Or maybe it will and he will prove me wrong. 🙂
I am grateful for stretching! I decided to use the 2 minutes my tea water was heating to do a series of stretches this morning and it felt so great.
4 thoughts on “Personality differences”
Other friends w/ kids in middle school and HS are struggling with the same thing. I think this is especially hard for type A moms like you and me. How you describe yourself is similar to what I was like as a student, too. I loved planners and writing down all the due dates for things in advance/etc. It seems like that is more of a female trend (hate to gender stereotype but I don’t know any men who love planning as much as I do/have a planner). It also seems like schools are more lenient with kids these days. Like a bunch of assignments can be missing but as long as they turn them in by the end of the term, they can get credit for them. That just seems like a bad practice and I don’t understand the reasoning behind it. I would never miss a deadline when I was in school because it was simply not acceptable and you’d get a 0 for the assignment.
Hopefully he gets a chance to figure out the error of his ways before things start to really count, which I would assume is in HS as you that’s when you need to worry about your GPA? But if he’s not challenged then he might be able to skate by a bit? I didn’t have AP classes in my tiny town in ND so I was never really challenged in HS but since I’m a perfectionist, I adapted to college well. But if you aren’t a perfectionist, I think the switch to college can be much harder if you haven’t learned how to plan and study.
I’ll be curious to see how our son turns out!! My husband did very well in school but was completely different than me, so I am going to guess our son will end up like him.
I actually do wonder about the gender thing sometimes, too. I hate to “go there”, but it just really does seem like more girls that I know of are into planning, organizing, etc. than boys, for sure. Who really knows I guess.
And yes- my concern is more once he gets to high school and GPAs really count! I agree in general school is just different too than when we were kids. It is concerning to me sometimes from the standpoint of, like you said, potentially setting up poor habits for the future. I would also never have dreamed of missing an assignment! The whole “you can turn it in later and still get credit” thing is very strange to me, too.
All in all though, I *think* he has enough of me in him that as things get more challenging, he will adjust and adapt. Hopefully. 🙂
hahhahaha…. i can totally feel you! I think so far Sofia has been very like me in term of curiosity and learning while Lizzy is not showing up interests. Other than studying, they are different in many ways to me and I think i can live with that as long as they take the best of me and ignore the worse! hahaha….. i find parenting is hard in the sense that we want the best for our kids at the same time reminding us they’re their own person, we don’t own them, we don’t dictate them, but we can only coach them.
Haha. Just yesterday I saw the following quote on a parenting advice website:
“The single most common parenting problem there is, and the root of so many other parenting problems, is confusing your feelings with your child’s.”
I think it’s so true! You gotta let him do him, and try to gently guide if his tried and true technique doesn’t stand the test of time. Simple, right? But not easy…
For what it’s worth, his style sounds almost identical to my husband, who magically seemed to know when he needed to study and when not, and has had a great deal of academic and professional success. So he might turn out great following his own intuition! It wouldn’t work for me. But then, my study system wasn’t so great either. I always started out with great intentions – planners, multi-colored pens, notebooks for every subject, but it turns out I am a bit of a procras… procrastinat…. how do you spell that word? Eh, I’ll look it up later 🙂 So I always found reasons to not study, or to halfheartedly study, up until about the night before, when I’d stay up all day and night in a mad panic and hope everything stayed in my brain until the test. Very stressful and occasionally disastrous. I know I will actively discourage procrastination in my own children as it’s not a great way to be, but as you have discovered, there’s only so much we parents can control 🙂