How to Tell Your Parents You Got a Bad Report Card
Report card day. If you are anything like I was growing up, this is the most dreaded day of the whole semester. If you're reading this, you are most likely in a position where you wish you could just crumple up your grades, throw them away, and pretend like the whole semester never happened.
Don't worry! You can get through this! And one day this will be a distant (maybe even forgotten) memory.
But for now here is a practical and realistic way to face your parents.
Be Honest with Your Parents
Okay this is probably the very last thing you want to do right now, but believe me, this is actually the BEST option for you right now.
Take some time and think about the alternative, if you lie or ignore the situation--how mad do you think your 'rents will be when they find out on their own--or worse--from your teachers? Believe, it'll be way worse than if you had told them the truth from the start!
Being upfront and honest gives you the opportunity to share your side of the story and perhaps even diffuse your parents' anger. It also gives you the chance to show your parents that you can take responsibility for your actions.
Have an Adult Conversation
Start your conversation with your parents by telling them that you need to talk to them. Ask them to please be patient and let you speak (I cannot promise that they actually will--but do your best to stay calm and collected, this may encourage them to do the same).
Be clear, concise, and straight to the point. Take responsibility right from the start. "I didn't do well on my report card this term, but please let me explain."
Don't make too many excuses, keep your voice from whining, stay as matter-of-fact as possible. In other words, put on your best "grown-up" tone-of-voice. "I had a very hard time understanding what was taught in math class." "I did very poorly on several essays I had to write for English."
Offer solutions you've thought of to improve next time around. Your parents may be surprised by your initiative. "I'm sure if I pay closer attention and take better notes in class I can do better next time." "I really need to make sure I understand what I'm reading." "I will speak up more in class." "I will ask questions when I don't understand."
Offer suggestions on how your parents could help you improve. This is important because it tells your parents that you still need their guidance. "I would really appreciate it if you could help me with my homework." "Could you help me study for exams?"
Offering fair punishments will show your parents that you know actions have consequences and you are willing to accept yours. "I am going to give up a half an hour of TV-time every day and use that time to study until my grades have improved."
If you are really having a difficult time at school; academically or socially--now is the time to tell your parents! Your parents want to help you, they want you to be happy. If you are having a hard time--you don't have to deal with it alone! Open up and talk to your parents! Help them understand what you're going through. "Even though I try, I still have a very hard time following what's going on in class and I'm not sure what I can do to make it better." "There are people in my class who make it very hard for me to focus and I don't know how to approach them." "I am really not happy at school because......"
If you sit down and have a good discussion with your parents about your grades, your parents may be so impressed by your maturity they may not even get upset. (Again, no promises, but it's a possibility.)
You Are Capable
If you are feeling down about your scores, try not to beat yourself up. Obviously, if you have not been doing what you know you should--there is room for improvement. If you HAVE been trying and you don't understand why you aren't getting any better, do NOT think that you are stupid or incapable of being a good student.
I was a terrible student all throughout Middle School and High School. This was due mostly to me not applying myself, but also because I was really depressed and was ashamed to talk about it with my mom. When I finally I opened up to her, I learned that my mother was my ally, she always had been. She would do anything to help me.
In college I developed better work and study habits. I eventually graduated from college, cum laude, with Honors in Fine Arts, at the top of my department.
Have faith in yourself! You CAN succeed!
Bad Grades Are No Excuse for Beatings
If you are afraid to tell your parents about your bad grades because you're concerned you will "get beat" or be served with cruel, unreasonable, or violent punishment--seek help! A bad report card is no excuse for physical abuse. Tell a teacher, your principal, the school guidance counselor, or another adult that you trust, about your concerns.
Do NOT, however, LIE about this just to avoid telling your parents about your report card! This is a serious situation with serious consequences.
How to Avoid Bad Grades in the Future
Here are some tips on how you can avoid having to have the "bad report card talk" in the future:
- Do your homework, pay attention in class, take good notes, and study for exams.
- When you don't understand something--speak up! If you're too embarrassed to talk in class, make time to meet your teacher after class.
- Instead of COPYING classmate's homework, work WITH the students who seem to have a clear idea of what's going on in class. Since you are peers, they may be able to explain things to you in a way the teacher hadn't thought of.
- If you KNOW you're not doing well in school, don't wait until you get your report card to confront your parents. Let them know you are having a hard time as soon as you think you are not doing well. Together, you, your parents, and your teacher can come up with a solution to change your grade.
- If you're really not comfortable talking to your parents, then at least make time to meet with your teacher. Your teachers want you to succeed! That's why they do what they do! Let them know you are aware you're not doing well, but want to do better. I'm sure they'll have some ideas on how you can improve. They may even offer you some exclusive extra credit projects just for asking.
Best of luck letting your parents in on the bad news! Don't wait too long! It'll only get more difficult to do the longer you wait.
You can do it! Take a deep breath, compose yourself, and do your best! It'll be over before you know it!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
I had an abusive parent in the past, but I'm living with my grandparents now. The past three Algebra II tests I've taken have been below 50%, and I usually do very well in school. I'm terrified of talking to my grandad because of the abusive situation with my dad. What should I do?
You should speak with your teacher and/or your school guidance counselor about your situation. They can provide you with support and resources and assist you with talking to your grandparents. Your teachers want you to succeed and absolutely do not want to see you get hurt. Don't be afraid to talk to them if you are having a hard time. If there is a teacher you bond with better than your math teacher, you can go to them first and ask them to help you discuss the problem with your math teacher.Helpful 18