How to Tell Your Parents You Got a Bad Report Card

Updated on October 25, 2017

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.

Before you go up against your parents, take some time to meditate.  Jot down points you want to make when you speak to them.  Take several deep breaths; in through your nose, out through your mouth.  Stretch.  Shake out the nerves--and go for it!
Before you go up against your parents, take some time to meditate. Jot down points you want to make when you speak to them. Take several deep breaths; in through your nose, out through your mouth. Stretch. Shake out the nerves--and go for it! | Source

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!


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    • profile image

      Oh No 4 days ago

      I got a 67 in dance because i didn't always wear my leotard because it was uncomfortable and i just wore my shorts and tights and my mom will say thats just an excuse and will kill me.

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      live is hard 5 days ago

      ALL OF MY GRADES ARE C'S D'S F'S AND 1 A my dad is going to kill me i cant try these he is a very angry person he has angry issues!! so if i die say i have moved to California and live in hole!

    • profile image

      nikolas 3 weeks ago

      im still in middle school 7th grade, and this is very very useful

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      Cant get all A's 4 weeks ago

      I exactly have 4 A's, E, D, B, and 2 C's. I don't want to show my parents my grades anytime soon, but I have to. Also, my younger sister has all A's in Elementary. I'm in Middle. Please help me...

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      Stupid Kid 4 weeks ago

      I really need help with my grades. If I show them to my parents, and I dont know how, they will get really mad. Asians expect so much from their kids, and I dont know why. No one is perfect and no one can get straight A's in every semester. It's very sad that they dont understand what I'm going through, I need help how to tell them and all. Tomorrow's last day of my 2nd Semester, just hoping they wont do anything. Thanks for this, now I have evidence about what they shouldn't do. Whoop my ass.

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      Ganet 5 weeks ago

      I failed a semester core class but i have B’s in all my other ones

    • profile image

      Tim 5 weeks ago

      Getting my report card tomorrow and its full of D's and F's...its hopeless...

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      Wasan 5 weeks ago

      I will get my report card tomorrow, I just want to be positive. And by the way, my dad goes to school and gets my report card...not me. So, lol.

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      Harvard professor 3 months ago

      One of my students failed my test and I did not leave them there to struggle instead I gave them 5 extra points for trying and it put there grade up so much higher and now he is a doctor and he thanks me every day for those extra points.

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      Uknown three C one D Just Started 6th Grade student 4 months ago

      Hopefully My mom doesn't go ballistic.

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      aliza 7 months ago

      so scared got really bad grades my mom is going to be so mad at me i hope this works...

    • profile image

      student 11 months ago

      i dont know what to do. i have never gotten below a 90 in a report card. this marking period ends tmr and i dont know what to do :(

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      Kisses, A 13 months ago

      It honestly went Horrible. She doesnt even want to look at me right now ); well, at least its done. Thanks

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      Elaina 16 months ago

      I have to give my report card to my parents soon.What i'm trying to get at though is the fact that i have a B in my Pre-Calculus class and and my dad well this is an understatement but he is very upset and disappointed in me.That was before he found out I also have a B in my drama class.I don't know how to approach him and tell him so i'm very worried that im in deep trouble.

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      A student :( 22 months ago

      I have a very low C in Spanish because I missed a few days and didn't understand what we were learning. Do you think my mom will be mad??

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      Gavin Heinz 23 months ago from Austin TX

      All grounded

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      Student 2 years ago

      Hope this help Student

    • profile image

      Student 2 years ago


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      A student 2 years ago

      I got a D is SS, it's my only bad grade, and I'm sooooo scared, i have to tell my parents but I really don't want to.

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      student 2 years ago

      i havent got my report card yet i am getting it tomorrow but i really hope i dont have a c in lang. arts because of my nine weeks test that i made a 68 on which is half my grade

    • profile image

      stulu 2 years ago

      wow these are bad grades and i'm scared to tell my mom that I got A's and B's

    • profile image

      Billy 2 years ago

      hope this works

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      Samantha Harris 3 years ago from New York

      Best of luck!!

    • profile image

      Nevaeh 3 years ago

      Today I got my report card got straight d and I b and I'm so scared but I hope this will help so I praying

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      Samantha Harris 3 years ago from New York

      I'm happy that this helped you. I can't speak for all parents, but generally speaking, we just want our kids to meet their potential and know that they are doing the very best that they can. We know what the future holds for you so we want you to be as prepared as you can be so you have a better chance at success.

      Parents don't want their kids to be afraid of them (even though we sometimes do things that definitely make our kids nervous around us). So being open and honest with us, actually makes us feel pretty good.

      I hope the tutoring helps! Do your best!

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      Student 3 years ago

      The quarter is almost over and I'm getting my first non-A's. I'll probably end up with a D in precalc, a B in my AP classes, and an A in my other 4. This hub helped me tell my parents that I didn't understand math very well so I'll probably end up with a low C or D and how I will improve by going to lunch tutoring every day until my grades are up. I thought they wouldn't understand but they are glad that I am taking initiative to bring my grades up for next quarter.

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      Samantha Harris 4 years ago from New York

      I'm so sorry to hear that. :(

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      Hi 4 years ago

      That did not work at all...

    • followthestray profile image

      Samantha Harris 4 years ago from New York

      You'll be okay. Don't worry. They may be mad for a little while but they will get over it. Especially if you make an effort to improve.

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      hi 4 years ago

      Hope I don't die

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      Samantha Harris 5 years ago from New York

      You're welcome. Good luck!

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      A Student 5 years ago

      Thank You very much for this! I feel much better now about telling my parents I got bad grades.

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      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      That was such a nice read, and a nice perspective. Report card time can be "panic" time for some kids (er , um, not that I would know...), and that was some sound advice.

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      Ajeet 5 years ago from Mumbai, India

      I will get my 12 year old to read this hub with me. I can often detect his hesitation to disclose some scores.