I am a successful entertainer and my husband is a successful businessman. Our 14-year-old son is very talented and making "A's" in music and drama. But his is making "D's" in his other subject areas.
I don't think the problem is at home. In spite of our busy schedules, my husband and I have a good marriage and a happy home. I just think he is very turned on to the arts and not very interested in other schoolwork. My husband and I both feel he is able and must do well in all of his subjects. I would appreciate your suggestions about how to help him do this without getting into a struggle or making academic schoolwork even more of a chore. -- -- A Reader.
Select a time when you are not under stress or frustrated and upset by his neglect of his academic subjects to discuss your concern with him.
You are probably saying, "I have done that." Most of us present such matters as a complaint rather than a concern and an expectation for change. Complaints often lead to parent-child struggle.
You can point out that you appreciate the fact that he is interested in and good in the arts, but that you feel his lack of interest in his other schoolwork is unwise and self-harmful. You can point out that young people need to develop the discipline to do just as well as they possibly can in all academic areas -- even though they may enjoy some more than others, and may be more talented in come areas than others. Remind your son that such an attitude and expanded capacity will enable him to gain exposure to the many opportunities in life, and better prepare him for the reality of the real world -- a world in which we very often can't do the things we like as much as we would like, if at all.
As an entertainer, you know that the same discipline needed to address all of his subjects will be needed to practice and perform day after day, without getting turned off or requiring artificial highs (drugs, for example).
You and your husband should encourage your son to give himself a chance to be excited by other subject areas. You may be talking "show-biz" or business at home, and not about areas related to your sons's schoolwork. If so, try to broaden the range of your family discussions in a natural, not forced or artificial way.
You may also want to remind your son that even though he is talented and you have been successful in the entertainment field, there is no guarantee that he will be able to earn a living as an entertainer. Point out the reality of chance and the shifting tides of public taste, and hence the changing opportunities in the field. This will help him appreciate the importance of a good general education.
Finally, you must insist on improvement in a way that does not promote resistance. This is best done by giving your son the responsibility for selfchange, with help from you and your husband as needed. For example, ask him to set a reasonable time by which he can bring his performance up to his capability level.
Tell him, too, that you will help him learn to plan and schedule his time for study and assit him in any way you can. Let him know that you do not wish to take away any of his privileges, because you feel he is mature enough to take responsibility for improving his level of accomplishment.
My 13-year-old daughter is basketball crazy. She does well in school but I don't know how. Sometimes on Saturday, she will play basketball from morning until late evening.
I am glad to see the girl take an interest in sports. But isn't this too much? How true it is that times and ways change, but issues remain the same? My mother had exactly the same concern -- then it was about boys. Now it's about girls as well. -- A Reader.
If your daughter is working up to her capacity in school, gets along well with her friends and family members and is interested in things other than basketball, don't worry about her basketball craze.
Athletic "crazes" are normal and healthful outlets for energy in the early teens for both boys and girls. If your daughter has the dream that she is going to earn a living as a professional in this field, remind her -- without killing her dream -- of how few people are successful as professional athletes. Let her know, too, that she must must devote just as much time to her general education to help her make it in the world.
We would be concerned only if her academic performance begins to slip.