An “F” in Parenting or One of My Worst Fails Ever

View of the breathtaking UCSB campus.

View of the breathtaking UCSB campus.

I got a phone call from my son. He told me he got an F in a class. This was during his freshman year of college. I was out of state for a training program for my new job. It was an intense five-day training where I was way out of my comfort zone, removed from parenting, or any thoughts about my college child.   

When my son called it was a jolt. I had the strangest feeling in the pit of my stomach. An “F?” How could that be? Less than a year ago, he had given an amazing valedictorian speech for his high school.

My son and friend at high school graduation.

My son and friend at high school graduation.

I confided this shocking news to a new friend in training with me. He had been a counselor at a major university in a prior career and he told me that my son could get the F removed from his record. He could:

1. Talk to his professor.

2. Retake the class.

3. Talk to people in administration and explain his extenuating circumstances.

That made me feel a little bit better. I called my son and told him “he had to take care of this.” He could never get into graduate school with an F on his record.

I thought about this incident today. I woke up this morning with a stabbing pain in my heart. I cannot believe I told that to my son. After writing weekly swim parenting articles for SwimSwam.com, one of my recurring themes is not focusing on the results. I talk about not looking at times (which translates to grades). It’s the process that counts. Let our kids learn from their mistakes. That’s what I keep saying.

I’m feeling like the worst parent in the world. I did not ask my son, “what is going on? What are you going through?” I didn’t offer support, or find out why he was failing.

My son with his dog, Angus.

My son with his dog, Angus.

I was more concerned with performance. I can’t believe I didn’t question if there was something going on in his life that I should know about. Was I more worried about “what people would say” rather than my son’s well being? 

Although I feel terrible and ashamed, I guess I can say that I’m still learning about parenting. I know for a fact that I used to be too focused on results and performance, rather than the process.

My son, who is in his fifth year of school, is doing great in all aspects of his life. Despite me being his mom, he’s healthy, happy and has learned from his mistakes. I’m trying to learn from my mistakes, too.

My beautiful son when he was three.

My beautiful son when he was a toddler.

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