When my wife and I became parents, we vowed to raise our son the best we can, including making sure that he puts forth his best efforts in everything that he does. We thank our parents for doing so with us because it helped make us responsible adults and parents. Whether in school, sports, or chores, we expect our son to do the best job that he can do. He will not always have the best results, but we are fine with that as long as he tries his best. We will discipline poor effort and reward his best.
We expect our son's best work and the highest grades he can make. For example, our son is very capable of scoring A's on every math test and on his report card. Occasionally, he will have a bad day and score a little lower but not often. When it does, we go over the test to see what went wrong. Very recently, we discovered that he got careless and did not check his work before turning in the test. Therefore, he made a low grade for him on the test and lowered his overall grade to B. Later in the quarter, he slowed down, checked his work, and scored a high A. We made sure to praise and reward him for his effort and success.
In his English class, he works very hard, but he has some trouble, especially with diagramming sentences. He may make a C on that type of test and, therefore, end up with a lower grade for English. His best effort may or may not result in an A, but he does the best he can. The difference is that he did his best in English but not in math. My mother once questioned my disciplining my son for a B on a spelling test. I explained that the grade did not bother me, but his refusal to study his spelling list did. We do not necessarily discipline him for lower grades but rather for his lack of effort.
We also expect our son to play his best on the baseball field. He may get three hits in one game, or he may strike out each time. He has done both. The difference is in his attitude. In one game, he told me that he did not want to hit; he struck out looking without swinging the bat even once with the tying run on base in the last inning. In another game, he took good swings at some good pitches, but the pitcher overpowered him. The difference in how I reacted stemmed not from the strikeouts but from the efforts. In the first instance, he let his team down by not even trying, so he lost privileges at home until the next game. In the second, he tried his best but lost; I encouraged him to play good defense and "Get him next time."
Our son has must complete his share of chores regularly or upon request. Like most kids, he hates chores. However, he knows that he must earn his spending money. He is now old enough to do the jobs correctly, not quickly. We have often had him repeat the vacuuming multiple times until he gets every bit of the mess off the floor. I have had him take the dishes back out of the cabinets and restack them correctly so they will not fall over. He has had to reorganize the groceries on the shelf so we can find things more easily. He does not like doing the chores once, let alone many times, so he is starting to make sure to get them right the first time.
These measures seem harsh to some parents, but this is our son. We expect the best from him in all he does. Our parents expected our best effort, and we became responsible adults, employees, spouses, and parents because of it. Our son is learning to do the best he can on all tasks while young so he will grow into a similarly responsible adult. If we do not force that quality into him now, then we may never get another chance. These lessons are our responsibility, and we will put forth our absolute best efforts in raising our son.
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