Eh, maybe a little. DH and I push our kids.
We’re not so far up the SES ladder that our kids can rest on their laurels– we both broke into the upper middle class this generation (DH from the rural working class, I’m first-gen on one side and come from a long line of middle-class working women on the other). And OMG is it nice to be upper-middle class. The stresses we don’t have that our parents had and that DH’s siblings and cousins still have, I can’t even. Every day I’m mindful of (and thankful for) this miracle.
We got here from climbing the academic ladder and playing by the rules (and, of course, luck). From pushing ourselves, and maybe being pushed a little bit too. Well, not maybe, definitely. (DH’s siblings, while not upper-middle-class are definitely doing much better than his cousins.) Definitely from being pushed a little bit too. Our kids will have more freedom and latitude to maybe not play by the rules, but having that academic ladder cleared will certainly help if other ventures don’t work out.
A’s now mean life is easier later. Challenges now mean that there’s less likely to be complete melt-downs in college. So we push. Not to breaking, but occasionally to leaving the comfort zone. So far the discomfort (often followed by breaks, and then by trying again) has always led to epiphanies and growth, just as it should.
There’s no shame in getting a B, but a B also means that the material hasn’t been mastered. There’s room for improvement and that’s a target to work on. So, in that sense, Bs are addressed. Material is mastered and then some. Even if it’s not that interesting. Even if school sometimes has arbitrary rules.
Granted, our kids are truly brilliant, and they’re highly capable of mastering many many challenges. So it’s easier to have a home with the underlying belief that Bs aren’t good grades. We have justifiably high expectations. I have students who, as hard as they try, won’t pull off As in four classes a semester. But it’s my job to get them to master as much of the material as they can, and it’s their job to try. If my kids go someplace where they’re truly challenged, then even Cs may be fine as long as they’re still getting where they need to go, but they’re not there yet.
For K-12, A’s are pretty important. Especially if they’re not going to fancy high schools that colleges know by reputation. I trust that my kids will work hard and if they don’t get As it won’t be from lack of trying, but I also know that we will work hard to stem any damage by filling in knowledge gaps should a lower grade occur so that it won’t lead to downward spirals down the line.
DH and I have both gotten Bs in our high school and college careers, but not that many. I think DH even has a C on his college transcript. And, possibly related, we haven’t always gotten into our top choices for things. But we keep working and we keep trying. And that’s the message we want to send to our children. That’s how we push.
Did you get pushed as a kid? Do you feel like that affected your adult life?