Open Letter to Parents ... Okay, Rant:
I'm struggling here, pleading, this bribing your kids with fancy stuff to get them to do their school work is making problems in my home. I'm sure you're wonderful people, but this system does not seem conducive to raising healthy children who then go on to become responsible adults.
Though I've already parented one child through the LA haze/maze of the private school network, while there were pitfalls and rabbit holes and plenty of snubs because we were not on a first name basis with Steven Spielberg, the entire ordeal worked out fine. But the world seems to have changed since the last time I stepped into the hallways of a Middle School.
Arguably one could say nothing has changed, things have just amplified. But, nostalgia, my constant, dreamy companion will always illustrate otherwise.
Back to my point. I raised a boy. It's different than raising girls. At least for me. Most of them, well, mine that is, didn't care about clothes, fashion, cool cars, cliques, instead he focused on what he liked, academics, science, video games, hanging with his local friends and staying clear of the Westside where he attended posh school. Yes there were problems, but nothing compared to what I see coming.
Now I have 13-year old girls. Just getting them this far took Herculean effort. I should be dead.
The girls have so many interests, dance, music, art, cooking, design, sewing, fashion, Lego's, Marvel anything, collections of stuff... anyway suffice to say everyday is school, activity, homework, friend drama, problems/complaints with my dinner menu; then everyone goes to their own private pod to engage in some pastime. I go to my bedroom, tiny slice heaven, to read, write, scribble notes, talk to myself, channel flip.
Now the girls are getting into more complicated issues. Stuff outside my wheelhouse. Like fashion, boys, make-up, designer shit, girl drama. Well, one twin anyway. Her sister doesn't care about any of this.
But E, she's the artist, idealistic, sparkly, she loves elegance and plush, knows designers, studies Youtube tutorials on fashion, hair and make-up. Her creativity has no bounds. She never stops. My house is an art gallery. The flourish of her paintbrush is also used on my face, I'm her subject. Everybody is her subject.
All of this is fine and dandy. She's also a good student and seems well adjusted. And my make-up never looked better.
But when it comes to schoolwork, my parenting style is pretty much hands off. They're on their own. They always have been. They know this. They like this. And it works. For us.
E: Suzie Q gets a new designer handbag every time she gets an A in anything. She just got a Chanel for English.
Me: I can't listen to this. Who does this? Why not just work for the A, get it and feel good you earned it? Why a reward? She's 12 for chripes' sake!
I'm sure my rant was much worse, before launching into: 'My dad gave me a buck for every A at the end of a semester..." but she was already organizing her point.
E: Do you think I can get a Chanel bag at the end of the year when I make honor roll.
Which lead us into a conversation of, sure, you'll get some kind of reward for getting good grades. Which I don't have a problem with. For example last year I took the girls to Waffles when they got on the Dean's list. It's more of a small celebration for their hard work.
But they're upping the stakes. I'm not buying a 13- year old a Chanel bag! Ever! I don't care if one of them cures cancer. She can buy her own Chanel bag! Get me one while you're at it.
To me this is bribery, suggesting that education is merely a way to get "stuff" and if they work the system, which they can, they will get great "stuff." Alas, life does not work that way. The kid is being set up for disappointment and disaster. No employer is going to buy you a Chanel bag because you did your flipping job.
But I need support. As in PARENTS stop it! Read some articles or books on how this will backfire. As I've written so often before, they will fall apart in college. They will not be prepared.
I am not talking about the kid who works hard anyway and will do well no matter what the circumstances. I'm talking about the majority of kids who don't like school but will tolerate it if they are given material things.
Many studies conclude that paying kids to learn decreasing their intrinsic motivation to perform those activities, weakens their internal drive to learn, and removes their love, if any, for learning. Here is a good, short impactful article.
Instead of Gucci bags, Prada flats, BMW's or fifty dollar bills;
you might say, 'I have complete confidence in your abilities to achieve this task.'
I don't even say that, frankly. Maybe I'm fortunate, my kids like school, like to learn. Sure sometimes it's hard. Sure they'd rather play Mindcraft or watch Bethany Mota bubble on about her DIY "hauls."
But you know what they hate more than anything? Getting a C or god forbid a D! When that happens, they get upset with themselves, then figure it out. Sometimes I get involved, mostly not. What happens after that? They start getting B's, then A's. Along with the great satisfaction it was all their own doing.
It seems in this world, most of the kids I encounter have everything. Iphones, IPads, IAnything. Many get allowances (mine don't.) Many get shopping sprees. They want for little. SO, in addition, then get HIGHER end stuff if they get an A?
Bewildered. And I get a sense this is just going to escalate. Hello High School.
Just after posting, I was sent this great article, including a saying: "Punished by Rewards" excellent read. Perfect timing. Read here.
Rhonda Talbot weighing in on spoiled kids, overindulgence, Middle School, High School, Rewards for Nothing, Parenting, Bribery, Help.