Parents Siblings - Warning, Long Post

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Jan 17, 2008
I am not sure if this is the correct forum for this question/problem... so Bog if you need to move it - do so :)

My Daugters Beetle is 14 - 8th grade. Level 8 training Level 9. Bug a 12 year old competitive dancer in 6th Grade. They go to the same middle school.

My delimma, has to do with that Sibling Riverly....

Beetle has always been a great student, most of the time getting a 4.0. She has great time management skills, gets most of her work done in school has very little home work. She takes school very very seriously. Spends her freetime in the Gym or with a couple close friends.

Bug, Is just as smart as Beetle but tends to struggle a bit more in school. She has homework every night and is barely maintaning C's ( in most subjects..) The exception is Language Arts/Reading where is is getting A+'s. Bug spends her free time with a wide varity of friends and dancing. She is an incredibly social creature. Appears to view schools as a means to socialize and learning comes second.

DH and I have tried really really really hard not to make comparisons. But somewhere along the way despite this, Bug has felt that she isnt as good as Beetle. This all came to light last night when we sat Bug down and had a talk about her grades. She has missing assignments, forgetting to study for tests, doesn't ask the teacher if she doesnt understand things.. Bug broke down and said she doesnt feel good enough that Everything is easy for Beetle and hard for her...

This was devestating to both DH And me.... Bug is incredibly beautiful and talented... She is a smart smart girl. We just dont think she is applying her self. I don't know how I can get through to Bug, that I expect her to live to her potential...She thinks she is at her potential..

Did having a gymnast play into this? We all have said that gymnstics is good for our girls that it gives them self confidence and timemanagement skills . I feel like in my case this is detrimental to my younger daugher
Perfect place for this post, you know we parents really care. Here's a (((HUG)))) to begin with.

I feel your pain. You know I have 3 kids, my oldest, DS, is 17 and just left home for college (boo hoo). He is bright, we know he is. He was tested as gifted (whatever that means) early on, but since about 4th grade he has decided to not apply his gifts to school work. Report cards always say the same thing "could do better if he tried". I harped on, in the nicest Mum way possible, at him for many years, until I realised that it was just more pressure that he couldn't cope with. Stress is not his friend.

Edit to add. My DS also always excelled in language arts, both Fench and English always good grades there. It was all the OTHER stuff that didn't work for him.

One day someone said to me "desire is essential" or "you gotta wanna", which is so true. All the carrots and sticks, kind or harsh words, bribes or manipulations would not help. So I let go, I let him be and he passed high school. Sure he "could've done better", but he had to do it his way.

He is living in Montreal with no Mum to even have to see daily. He is in a course that he chose, that he loves that is about his passion. His grades are higher than they have been for years, his assignments are done and handed in. He gets himself our of bed, fed and to school (one hour on bus and train) every day without any help at all. (GOBSMACKED) He is happy, he says that things are so much easier without the external pressures that he felt through high school, which means us and his teachers.

Back to the other two, DD 13 is like Beetle and DD 10 is like Bug, but I have learned through my poor first born, that I can encourage, but she has to do it on her own terms. This is not going to doom her to a life of failure, on the contrary, lifes lessons will be learned.

Hubby's brother was like Bug and my oldest, did a basic job through all of school, wandered through the college wilderness for years, failing a bit. But somewhere in his 20's the light came on he refocussed and is now a professor of pschology at a leading Ontario University. Some people just find their drive later.

I know it is so hard to let go, but your external pressure will not make her feel any better about herself and she will compare if Beetles is the "standard" to attain, she is perfectly normal.

With that remember that Beetle may be off the charts academically and therefore a comparison is not reasonable or fair. Now we all do it, we say we don't but we know we do, the biggest task is to not let it colour your relationship with either child.

As always this is just IMHO, take from it what might help and disreagrd the stuff that doesn't work for you and yours. Parenting is very hard, and even when I am finished and my kids are grown I fear there will still be so much that I wished I had known. What is most important though is the obvious love and compassion you have for your girls, they are lucky to have such a caring Mom. Which when we get back to basics, "love is all they need".:eek:
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Wow Bog what great insight !!! I think I learned a few things also.

Kristi i do not have much insight but I do know what great parents your kids have!! They will all make it through fine grades are only the schools measure of things. Ii am not sure they really tell us all our kids have learned.

I know that is an odd statement but as a kid in school I got terrible grades.

Fast forward to 1985 just our of school had a great boss who saww my potential took mu under her wing and I flourished into the worker and person I am today. The bottom linne was she really believed in me and built me up and helped me learn when I failed.

Don't get me wrong I had gret parents they just did not know how to do this or what a struggle I had.

So all you can do is encrouage help her figure out how to be more organized and let her know she is not Beetle BUT you do not expect her to be Beetle. You expect her to be Bug!!

My mom-in-law always told me some kids need more gentle reminders about things. They do eventual learn to do things on there own if we just keep reminding them kindly. This is a very wise statement from a woman who taught pre=school for 35 years and never rased her voisce once!!

It will be ok my friend keep being a great mom teen girls are tough!!
Boy, I know how you feel. We had similar issues with our 2 girls---just flip the birth order. Older one always had trouble with math, did pretty good in other subjects, but could have done better. Did competitive figure skating(so-so) and then marching band and several other activities in high school. Again, we felt her grades could have been better, but same thing with missing assignments, not asking questions etc. Younger one is the gymnast, school has always been a breeze(taking high school geometry as an 8th grader this year). Older one frequently would tell us we were prouder of younger one than her.

Something happened on the way to age 18. Maturity? Don't know. Good news is older one is a freshman in college and seems to be taking it all very seriously. Getting As in all of her classes and has explained her study schedule to us----no TV/x-box until work is done. Hey, she's living 1500 miles away from home, so we wouldn't know what she's doing. She did give us her password so we could check her grades on line----certainly didn't have to do that.

I guess what I'm getting at in a very round about way is that we did nothing incredibly special except support each one(even when they don't want it) and the older one now seems to "see" what being organized and applying herself a little more can do for her. Just wish she wasn't homesick sometimes----thats really tough to fix.
Ahh, thank you for posting this! My non gymnast dd is 14. She struggles in school, but she can, and does, do very well if it is on her terms. She missed 3 days of school this week because of being sick. I just sat down at the computer, after discussing with her that she was making bad choices by not doing some of the mountain of homework that she has to do! Then I saw your post! Ahh, I am not alone!:) With her though, it is like bog said. I can not push her. She shuts down. I have learned to give gentle reminders about how she felt the last time she blew something off and got a bad grade. It is tough not to compare. I have two that do ok in school. More social and everything on their time, then I have two that are in advanced classes. However, even those two who are straight A students are very different. One, ds son 12 years old, comes by everything very easily. He puts forth little effort and gets straight A's. He has absolutely no drive to give it his all because he doesn't have to. With no effort he gets it done and gets a decent grade, but I can not make him understand that if he was to put in just a little effort he would get a wonderful grade. He is ok with a 94 instead of a 100. That is him. Emma, HAS to have the 100 or 105 with extra points! Although she too comes by things very easily, she will work very hard to make sure she does her best. She has been known to crinkle up 93's (they are a B in our District) and shove them in the very bottom of her backpack. She is not happy with herself unless she gives it her all. So, you are not a lone. I think that I do not have the sibling rivalry issues because of the age difference and sex differences of my kids....DS 17, DD 14, DS 12, then DD 8. I think that has helped in avoiding those isues. Good luck! I just try to catch them in good moments and really praise for good decisions. My kids know that a C for some in this house, if it was achieved with hard work, is praised as highly as an A that was just earned with little effort. :D
I really like the book Mindset by Dweck. It's about how to develop in the reader and her child a "growth mindset" (if I put in the work I will improve and eventually meet my goals) vs. a "fixed mindset."
I think it's really easy for a younger child to just say "oh, I'm not as smart, so I can't do it" when they have an older sibling that excels like that. And I can speak from personal experience--my oldest DD (Sami--16) gets straight As. Her brother (14--9th grade), uh, not so much. As I keep telling him, he's just as smart as his sister, but he choose to apply his energy and time in other directions than school--just like your younger DD. (and everything you write about her applies to him--except the dancing ;-) ).
Would I argue with your younger DD about her belief that she's not as smart? Actually, no, not really. I would say that yes, things might come easier academically for her sister, but everyone has different skills and excel in different areas--she's a good dancer, right? And has a ton of friends. I'd also help her to see that older DD DOES have homework--she just uses her time at school to work on, rather than chatting with friends. If your younger DD wants to chat, that's fine, but she needs to realize that choice means she'll have more homework than her sister--it's not an indication of who's smarter, just how each chooses to use their time.
I'm not sure what advice to offer other than to just let you know that you aren't alone. I suffer from the same problems with school with my middle daughter. She's more into social interests. She is very smart, and I always hear from her teachers about how she is very creative, but she tends to be lazy and more concerned about what's going on around her instead of her studies. I'm sure it has to be hard for middle kids though. Hang in there. The rivalry issue is tough though. I have all girls (3) so I hear about it a lot.
Hugs to you Kristi. Being a parent is so tough sometimes.

As a homeschooling mom, and an unschooler at that, I think that what you have is just 2 very different kids. I don't think Beetle excels at school because she is a gymnast, though I do think that many gymnasts happen to be good at time management, etc. Bug sounds very artsy, relaxed, social, etc, much like my Abby. Abby isn't into school in the traditional way. She would be miserable at regular school. We learn things on her terms and it helps a lot. School isn't really that easy for kids that don't fit into the correct mold.

I am the oldest, did well in school, didn't have to try or study. I can honestly say though that I didn't really "learn" very much. Sure, I learned enough to ace the test, and had a great memory. I can't remember any of it now. Didn't mean I was smart, just that I was good at school. Good at memorizing and reciting, etc.

School is important, but not all kids will be A students. We are all different, have different strengths/weaknesses and will succeed at different things. Just like gymnastics, dance, sports, etc, there will always be amazing kids and not so amazing ones. School is the same, someone has to be in that top 1% and someone in the bottom and everyone else in the middle.

My sister wasn't good at school. Being younger than me, it was so tough on her. My dad always made comparisons. She was very smart, but just not good at the game of school. I have a friend from nursing school that is the same way. Great nurse, knows her stuff, horrible at taking tests. I know nurses that aced nursing school tests and are horrible nurses.

I would just make sure that Bug knows that you guys think she is just as special as her sister. (And I think you guys have already done this because you are so concerned about how she is feeling).

We can't make kids want to reach their potential. They have to do it themselves. Not everyone in life has that drive. Some seem to always have it. Some seem to eventually discover it when they are older and finally have something they REALLY want and find important to them. Some never find it and are either happy that way or aren't. All we can do as parents is make sure that our kids have all the tools and support they need to discover the path that they will be most happiest on.

Anyway, I don't think my post makes much sense, but to me it does. LOL. I can't ever seem to put things well into words.

Hugs to you again.
I was going to post a long, thought-out reply, but Mariposa seriously took just about EVERY single thought of mine! I could've written her post almost verbatim (including the unschooling comment)! :)

I have a couple different perspectives to offer as well. One is as a former educator. Good grades and applying oneself consistently well is not necessarily a predictor of success. It's an indication that one "plays school" well. (I was also one of those who played school and college very well. What did I learn? I don't know! I probably forget most of it but that which was important to me! A close college friend had to study very hard to get average grades, but she remembers more from classes like humanities than I do!) I'm sure you know that, but, most likely, your younger dd does not.

Second is as a sibling with a sister (4 years older than me) who, unbeknownst to me, compared herself to me growing up. I was the one with great grades that came easy, popularity (gag, I know :p), lots of activities and recognition. I thought that my sister and I were pretty close, but she was building up resentment against me to the point where, as an adult, she tends to twist things that I say and believe things about me that are untrue. (An example related to gymnastics is that she believes that my children excel at certain things because it's important for me that my children excel. If you know me at all, you'd know that this is completely untrue.) My point in telling you this is that I wonder how much of this could have been avoided if lines of communication were open about it growing up. (I'm not faulting my parents. It just happened.) Good for you for being so sensitive to it. Please keep the communication lines open. As we all know, as siblings and parents, sibling relationships can be complicated no matter what we do, but, I think that it could only help if we keep talking with our children and keep being positive and real towards our individual children, towards their relationships with each other, and towards the family group as a whole.
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This post kind of hit home with me as I was the A student (with minimal effort) growing up and my sister struggled to the point of being retained in 5th grade and being privately tutored twice a week for over 4 years. Her accomplishments at the tutors and her average grades were always lauded and rewarded while my grades etc were expected. Average grades were the best she could do, period and my parents basically did what they could to encourage her but school was not her thing.

Fast forward into adulthood, my sister is the VP in a huge company and making tons of money and traveling etc, married and has a couple of point is that she definitely landed on her feet and is doing fine. For all of my parents' anguish during her school years, she certainly has done quite well. So take a deep breath, keep her happy and go on with the bar a little lower for her and it might be less stressful for all.
Thanks to everyone for their kind posts. It really does help to know that I am not in this alone!

We had a great family weekend and kept the dialogue open with Bug. Letting her know she can talk to us about anything. I think she is feeling better today. I know I am feeling better for sure.

It is great to have my 'cyberfriends'!!
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