2 minutes to read
Thank goodness school is out for the summer. My daughter had a spelling test every week. She also had tests on Scripture several times a month. She’s only in second grade. But she did two to three hours of homework most afternoons. And she complained. “Daddy, why do I have to do so much homework?” “Daddy, I hate taking tests!” Recently I realized how much bad advice I’ve been giving her on this topic.
Words, Words, Words
I find my daughter’s complaints hard to understand. I loved school. Even tests were cool. They let me show my teacher how dedicated a student I was. Math was my specialty. I always found a second way to do a problem and verify the answer was right!
My advice to her fell into two categories:
- Exams help you understand what you know and what still needs work. It’s nice to get high marks. More important is identifying the questions that don’t make sense. In this way you build knowledge.
- The tests you’re taking now are easier than ones you’ll take later in life. Your studies only get more difficult. And unlike math, most of the time you won’t be able to check your work. Correct answers become illusive.
On their face, both are sound. Yet she never seemed to buy them. Relieved of the daily homework grind, I’ve had time to reflect. Here’s the thing. Just because we’re out of school doesn’t mean we don’t take tests anymore.
Truth is, I complain about tests more than she does.
Turning Good Advice Into Bad Advice
“I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.” ∞ Lewis Carroll
Aside from a couple I took while earning a Masters in Library and Information Science, I don’t take sit-down examinations. But life tests me everyday. When my wife gets home we talk about our days. She relates to me the challenging (read stupid) ways people handle their health issues. I tell her about the problems I face with my business and the navy. It’s the kind of harmless chitchat that goes on in most homes.
In reality it’s not so harmless. From my daughter’s perspective, the challenges my wife and I face are adult versions of the tests she takes in school. If we complain about ours why shouldn’t she do the same about hers? Nothing like mismatched words and actions for turning good into bad advice.
If my daughter understood the context it wouldn’t be so bad. We want her to get the most benefit from the tests she takes. In that light, if we’re just blowing off steam we need to make sure she knows that’s what’s going on. Otherwise, our conversations about work need to focus on how we can improve based on overcoming the challenges we mention.
Parents have to match words and deeds. But some behaviors are so ingrained you may not realize you’re acting incongruently. Look for where your kids aren’t taking your advice. You’ll find fertile ground for keeping your good advice from turning into bad advice.
Where are you action turning good advice bad? Please comment below.
© , Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved
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