Rabbi Ross. My son’s last report card was absolutely horrendous. He is in 6th grade, and his grades dropped in almost every subject. When my husband and I sat down to speak with him, he blamed the teachers, the school and even his friends. There was no remorse and he refused to take any of the blame. We’re at a bit of a loss. He’s always been a strong student, and we’re shocked not only by his grades, but also by his nonchalant attitude. What should be our response? Malkie – Boro Park
Something seems off about this question. As I’ve repeated many times, I am not a psychologist, nor the son of a psychologist (although my father is awesome). However, it seems odd that you didn’t notice any changes in your son before this report card came. Usually, when a boy starts slumping in school, parents notice a change in their attitude. Nothing seemed different?
Furthermore, if he has always done well, why didn’t the school notify you that there was a problem? You mentioned he dropped in almost every subject, well that’s a pretty big warning sign. You didn’t get a phone call from the school or even a teacher? I completely understand that the school probably has a lot going on, but if they didn’t contact you at all during the semester, something is wrong.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s do some detective work. Without knowing your son, it’s really hard to give a helpful answer, but I can certainly give some suggestions. Obviously, the ideas below are just that, suggestions. You and your husband need to discuss a plan of action before sitting down with your son. As my grandfather used to tell me, a fool speaks and then thinks about the consequences. A smart person thinks about the consequences and then speaks.
Wishing you Hatzlacha and a good Shabbos
4/27/2018 08:37:53 am
Nailed it! This is what I would have done also! I enjoyed your grandfather's quote.
4/27/2018 08:45:40 am
You just described my home a few weeks ago. We handled it differently and came in upset and yelling. It was a tense atmosphere. I was really upset, but showing you're upset is always a bad thing.
4/27/2018 09:08:19 am
Loved your approach, Rabbi Ross. I would like to add the question- does your son go on a phone or an ipad? Children tend to immerse themselves in these things to the point of discarding everything else.
4/27/2018 09:53:18 am
Why is always ask a Rav? What if the Rav doesn't have an answer. Why not ask a doctor?
4/29/2018 08:30:41 am
Mood swings are quite common in children. The issue to look out for is a combination of mood swings along with other behavior changes. I think that your conversation is a good one, but parents must be made aware that reading from a script won't work in most cases.
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Rabbi Yitzie Ross is a Rebbe and has been working with parents and kids for many years. You can read more about him in the "about" section.