So you thought your kid was going to...

#1
...go to university or apply for a commission...

A-levels day: 10 mistakes parents make when reacting to results
By Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent

It's a tense moment for families when exam results arrive. Emotions are running high. It's not just the students who are under pressure. How should parents avoid saying the wrong thing?
1. Not realising whatever you say is going to be wrong.
Always being in the wrong is part of the job description of being a teenager's parent. But when the envelope is opened you need to show the right expression to match the results. Otherwise you face a terrible, emergency, gear-crunching change of direction. Just when you've put on your best sympathy-at-a-funeral face, you realise that you're meant to be celebrating. Those results are... absolutely. We're proud of you. Never doubted you for a second. Punch the air.
2. Not really meaning it.
This is a tough one to get around. You've delivered what you thought was a little gem of supportive parenting. It was so sincere that it more or less came with its own orchestra. It's so empathetic that parts of your head have dissolved into soft focus. But you hit the crash barriers at speed, because you're told: "You don't really mean it. You're just saying it. If you think it's a disaster, just say it."
3. Changing your Facebook status to "gutted".
You know the dangerous territory we're entering. A Facebook mother armed with an iPad and something chilled, makes a stray comment about exam results not going entirely to plan. There's a throwaway remark about the Titanic. It's only intended to be a bit ironic, a little joke between parents. Teenagers might laugh a lot but don't mistake this for a sense of humour. Not about these exams, no way. If you want to destroy my life just tell me to my face.
4. "Why would I be disappointed? This is fantastic news, isn't it?"
Keep that smile more frozen than fish fingers in a polar bear's deep freeze. You have to show you're happy. Those grades look impressive, but don't make the error of expecting unbridled joy. For today's high-pressure teenagers, anything that isn't perfect is a disaster. They may as well scrap their career plans right now. The world has ended. Look at all those blonde triplets jumping on the front page of the Daily Telegraph. They've got an A* in everything. Why haven't I? Keep smiling.
5. "Almost as good as your cousin."
Don't even think about it. The most inflammatory parental response is a comparison to the perfect cousin or sibling, so clever that their results illuminate the entire extended family like a constellation of grade A*s shining in the night sky. This has been winding everyone up since nursery school. Also to be avoided are such morale-boosters as: "Congratulations, you've nearly done as well as that eight-year-old in Hong Kong."
6. "Of course these days they more or less give away A-levels."
You might secretly think this, but keep such careless talk to yourself. This generation can only take the exams put in front of them and they've worked harder than we ever did. Mind you, come to mention it, until 1987, there was a limit on the amount of top grades, so in fact... Stop, there's no going back.
7. "If you were really pleased you would pay for my festival ticket."
Difficult one. Of course, we're pleased about the results. Not so much about the blackmail. And have you seen the price of tickets? I know we said that if you revised really hard and got good results we'd be really pleased. But let's not get carried away. There's always room for improvement, look at your cousin...
8. "We still love you anyway. It isn't that bad, considering."
There are some well-intentioned phrases that are about as supportive as a trap door. File them away with "Not the end of the world", "It could have been worse" and "To be honest, I wasn't really ever sure about that university, even though you've already bought the sweatshirt." You may as well start hand-stitching them a banner with "Loser" written on it.
9. Richard Branson didn't go to university.
Folksy optimism works in animated movies about puppies with special powers, not in a world where teenagers' bad news spreads like a plague from text to Tweet to social networking. Avoid life-affirming success-from-failure stories, especially when someone has just unexpectedly found themselves in a failure-from-success story.
10. Looking slightly wistful when you're meant to sound delighted.
You know it's really good news. Everything has gone well. All the hard work has been worthwhile. But you can't help but feel that twinge of parental nostalgia. And the "twinge" is a lump in the throat the size of a supertanker in a canal. Five minutes ago they were bringing home drawings from primary school and now they're getting exam results at the very end of all their school years. Raise a glass and say nothing.




BBC News - A-levels day: 10 mistakes parents make when reacting to results
 
#2
They missed my Dad's immediate reaction to my O level reults. "Your Maths result is crap".

I'd passed everything and done more than enough to get onto the course I wanted to do but he shot me right down. One of the down sides to having a teacher as a parent. They think their kids have to be brighter than they are
 
#4
Twenty or so years ago, a bloke I worked with gave his son the full 'guilt trip experience' about disappointing GCSE grades. An hour or so later the lad hanged himself.

The father was a broken man from that day onwards.
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#5
My Mum's reaction on hearing my GCSE results was simply: "Did you do well enough to get in the Navy then?"

She just wanted me out of the house.
 
#6
They missed my Dad's immediate reaction to my O level reults. "Your Maths result is crap".

I'd passed everything and done more than enough to get onto the course I wanted to do but he shot me right down. One of the down sides to having a teacher as a parent. They think their kids have to be brighter than they are
A good friend of mine and his brother (who is also a good mate) suffered from this as kids; they're both bright enough but neither of them is academic and their father is retired scientific director from the Home Office Scientific Development Branch. My mate has got GCSEs and professional qualifications and his brother has got GCSEs and A-levels. They both work and have good jobs and can support themselves and their nearest and dearest. Sometimes that is all that really counts...
 
#7
Bit like Ravers, got enough to get me in the RN, the rest is history.

I feel sorry for kids these days, the preasure to achive. Parents should chill a bit.
 
#8
A good friend of mine and his brother (who is also a good mate) suffered from this as kids; they're both bright enough but neither of them is academic and their father is retired scientific director from the Home Office Scientific Development Branch. My mate has got GCSEs and professional qualifications and his brother has got GCSEs and A-levels. They both work and have good jobs and can support themselves and their nearest and dearest. Sometimes that is all that really counts...
It is. Ironically I've probably done best at work out of all my siblings but my school and college qualifications are not the best. I was an idle bastard until I saw the £ signs coming in. I have a brother with a good Law degree who works as an admin grade in a Tax Office. He's never used his degree but the fact he got it and it was more prestigious than mine, Business & Finance (the 1980s fashion degree), means he got far less grief at home where he still lives, single and aged 35, the ******.

My daughter wants to be a hairdresser. Seeing as you can't outsource hairdressing to India and you never see a poor, self employed hairdresser round here we are 100% behind her. Ultimately it's about making a a decent living and exam results are just a gateway to your next job or course. They become irrelevant pretty quickly when experience takes over.

Certainly don't want to end up like the dad in Pigshyt_Freeman's post
 

DieHard

LE
Book Reviewer
#9
My mrs has been stuck to the ceiling for the last couple of days with waiting for results for my 18 year old twins, she had a go at me for being so laid back.
There were mistakes made with ucas not being updated with the extra work and points the kids did, but a few tense phone calls and emails of results sorted it out, the only pressure I have put on them is to beast my son because he has lost his letter for dsa and needs it for an assessment of needs test.
However a few phone calls sorted that out and a copy is in the post.
I am feeling very proud today, my twins are going to Bournemouth university and southhampton solent while there older brother is going onto his second year at Nottingham Trent university. 3 down 2 to go :)

Posted from the ARRSE Mobile app (iOS or Android)
 
#11
It's amazing really. The joy at finding out that your kid's been successful - then the financial implication dawns on you.
 
#13
My Mum's reaction on hearing my GCSE results was simply: "Did you do well enough to get in the Navy then?"

She just wanted me out of the house.
My mum was a teacher, and they both just said "that's more than you need to get in the Army"
 
#14
It's amazing really. The joy at finding out that your kid's been successful - then the financial implication dawns on you.
Move over here. All free (well sort of). Daughter has just finished her BA and is starting on her Masters next month and it has cost me the grand sum of 250euros a semester. Socialists can be good eggs sometimes :)
 
#15
It's amazing really. The joy at finding out that your kid's been successful - then the financial implication dawns on you.
Good point. I've already got the funds invested so my lads are sorted. If, however, they turn out to be thick, then the new motorhome or BMW I'll buy myself instead, will help sooth the disappointment.
 
#16
My father grunted and said he wasn't surprised at my lack of academic success and told everyone who'd listen how I'd never make anything of myself or my life. He even said the same thing to my new wife in later years.

He was made to eat his words some 10 years later.

The ******.
 
#17
My father grunted and said he wasn't surprised at my lack of academic success and told everyone who'd listen how I'd never make anything of myself or my life. He even said the same thing to my new wife in later years.

He was made to eat his words some 10 years later.

The ******.
******* hate that negativity in front of kids. Best thing you can do is be the exact opposite of him as a father.
 
#18
My father grunted and said he wasn't surprised at my lack of academic success and told everyone who'd listen how I'd never make anything of myself or my life. He even said the same thing to my new wife in later years.

He was made to eat his words some 10 years later.

The ******.
alphabetti spaghetti?
 
#19
My eldest girl got the grades she hoped for but found university a major dissapointment and, after switching courses in an attempt at rekindling her aspirations, left with only months to go. I had to bite my tongue because I had no experience of university myself, but needn't have worried. She had worked for me on boats whenever she could and had learned to be around the kind of creature that runs this world of ours. Long story short she now works for an NGO in Den Haag being a thorn in the side of the likes of our favourite Baroness. I'm very proud of her. Don't worry. It all works out one way or another.
 
#20
It's amazing really. The joy at finding out that your kid's been successful - then the financial implication dawns on you.
Tell me about it. Last year I had two of the buggers at Uni.

This year down to one but even so, excluding his fees, all in I reckon it comes to the thick end of £10k p.a. out of taxed income.
 

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