Sorry folks… I thought this posted yesterday.  I was out of town today, so will post today’s tomorrow.  How’s that for calendar challenged (and technologically challenged)

If we were living in some small, Norman Rockwall country town, or time-warped back a few decades, we might find ourselves sitting on our front porch getting thoughts and insight from those who have walked the road before us.  But since we aren’t, let’s use our friend, the world wide web, as a comfy front porch swing and settle in for some sage advice. 

So grab a sweet tea and “listen” as our wise women share on how to “inspire” the child (…that tends to be male) to be actively engaged in their education experience.  (good luck on that one)

Julie  says…
Take whiners to experience living situations where kids would LOVE to have responsibility for taking out the trash, rather than living under a bridge and digging for food in the trash.  Whatever chores they are asked to do might seem like a small inconvenience when they  realize they don’t have to worry about a roof over their heads, what they’re going to eat, and if they’ll be cool or warm.

As to the school question – kids want freedom, and it’s earned incrementally with age, and as they prove they are trustworthy to make good decisions and to take care of their responsibilities.  Beyond their responsibilities to God and their family, school is their next most important responsibility at that age.  Express interest in their academic studies as well as their extracurriculars.  But don’t do their homework for them!!!  Or save them when they fail.  Some of the most important lessons they learn in school are from failure, and learning to overcome it.

Sandra says …
I can pipe in on the boys mothers question……As the mother of three boys with three different personalities. I had two that could have cared less about school and one who was highly motivated. The Jr high years were extremely difficult with the two that were unmotivated. Two things I learned….1) Nothing counts till ninth grade when the fog lifts somewhat. 2) Let them suffer some natural consequences and pull you’re teachers into the fold.

Peggy says…
How about some incentives that will mean something to them? My Debbie uses a point system with rewards for her Kindergartners!! I must tell you the both of my girls (33 & 30) have told me they wished I had MADE them do chores. I tried but got tired of nagging so just did them myself.  I wish I had been stronger and Stayed the course!! 

Kathleen says …
If I had a quarter for every family I hear this from, I’d be a wealthy, WEALTHY woman! … 13 yr old boy and school….again, a VERY worthwhile and yet long topic for a full column. In short, girls generally do better in school because they are motivated by compliance and approval. Boys, on the other hand, are not likely to engage unless it is entertaining, it is interesting or he can see a direct reason he needs to know that.

Additionally, even in this community (upper middle class, well-educated, college kind of folks), I DARE you to ask the men around you how old they were when they “kicked it into gear,” academically-speaking. I have asked this frequently for four years: only 1 in middle school (I knew him and he was scary!!!); some by 11th grade in high school; 45% by junior year in college; 35% in grad school or beyond (that does NOT include the very successful lawyer who said, “kicked it into what???” Never!!! was his reply) I understand all the good reasons for a guy to get busy…but my experience is that most don’t. Many “levers” we can use to help that, though! Another column >…. but here are a few teasers:

a. investigate why….is it other guys picking on him? does he feel stupid? has he fallen behind and is too embarrassed to tell? is he staying up so late that he’s tired during the day? does he long to be the member of a team but didn’t make the athletic team? Our boy isn’t so good at identifying the why so he is often unable to tell us (in fact, he doesn’t know). We may have to do some detective work.

b. what would make school more interesting? would a trip to a Civil War site or at least to the downtown library to “see” stuff which makes him spark a bit in history be good? how about playing math games with dad or grand dad (moms are old hat)? could dad share his favorite poem or writer, as if it were “guy stuff?”

c. when lots else fails, how can we make it important to meet at least minimum standards of the family? make him “pay” for basic services…okay, you’re a nice guy…make him “pay” for bonus services…like Xbox or video game time or…. you name it. in the real world, we PAY for the goodies we enjoy by earning through our work. work more, earn more, get more of what you want.

just quick thoughts are there are no silver bullets…for most guys, it rides somewhere between a carrot and a stick. as they get older, we can give them more interesting motivating carrots…which is why most guys do finally kick it into gear.


Thank you, thank you, ladies!!  Here’s a very helpful link to a book Kathleen Fischer wrote addressing many of these issues:  Bringing Our Boys Through the Second Decade.  Love the questions … love the answers.  Thanks to our Ironing Board for walking the road with us!

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