My experience of obtaining a balance with parental approval

Growing bookworks Jan 2020

Growing Bookworms

I have two sons, both of which are quite different in their abilities and attitudes to life in general.

My oldest, Gregory, is a scholar. At the age of five he could read music and played the piano with some aptitude. At six, I taught him to read as he was frustrated by this inability and the schools in South Africa only teach reading during the year children turn seven. By the end of his second year of schooling, Greg had read all the series of books for young children I could think of, including Horrid Henry, Astrosaurs, the Little Men and Little Miss books, Secret Seven and many more.

I moved him on to other books, the Classic Starts series for children and during his third year of school, he started delving into some of the original classics. He also read all of the Shakespeare Junior Classics. The school enrolled him in a mathematics extension programme and he finished the entire additional workbook in two afternoons.

From a learning perspective, my oldest son is a dream. He works hard, perseveres and is determined to succeed. He is a lot like me. He shares my failings too. He only applies himself to things he enjoys, gets bored quickly and needs to be continuously challenged and stimulated. These character traits do not always provide for a peaceful co-existence with peers and colleagues, many of whom do not share our obsessive approach to work and areas of interest. My colleagues often ask me how I know so much about a certain topic and I will say: “It’s an interest of mine.” Greg and I are peas in a pod, we have many interests which we are very passionate about. Greg is not interested particularly in sport or socializing and does these things only when it is necessary.

My younger son, Michael, is different. Michael also likes to achieve, but his aims are tempered by a general enjoyment of life and friends and he likes to relax. He also likes to socialize and spend time with friends. School assignments are not a cause for concern until the day before they are due and, even then, they are approached in a slow and steady manner and not with panic. Michael doesn’t aim for distinctions and is very happy to achieve Bs and Cs on his progress report.

Michael is not particularly sporty, but he loves to join in with the whole “rah rah – all mates together” theme of an all-boys school and loves the war cries. He will break into a vibrant rendition of a war cry at the drop of a hat and I will be in stitches of laughter as he belts out the phrases at the top of his loud and currently breaking voice.

In summary, I am trying to bring up a complete overachiever and a happy go lucky Joe and get both through school, college and relationships.

The interesting thing for me is that both my boys have the same number of achievement certificates from their schools. Granted, Michael was at a remedial school until this year, and they do give awards for a greater variety of achievements, but Michael’s were generally in academic categories such as mathematics and Afrikaans.

With two boys as different as mine, it is not always easy to find the correct balance for encouraging and rewarding them, especially verbally. This past week, Gregory came home with 98% for his English examination and 93% for his mathematics examination. Michael came home with 60% for his Afrikaans examination and 75% for his English examination. I gave them both equal congratulations and made an equal fuss of their achievements. Other members of my social circle and family don’t always understand this approach. For me, I judge my boys’ achievements on their individual histories, attitudes and effort.

Gregory works very hard all the time. He has the intellectual ability to achieve very high marks and this, coupled with his work ethic, enable him in achieving excellent academic success. My worry for my older son is that he spends to much time working, gets to obsessed with achievement of his goals and struggles to balance other aspects of his life with work. In that way he is just like me.

Michael has a learning barrier and struggled to learn to read competently. He qualifies for a time concession for examinations and time will tell whether he need this or not. A child that struggles to read and write in his mother tongue, finds a second language extremely difficult. A remedial school focuses on the core subject of English and mathematics and the second language isn’t as much of a focal point. When we knew in 2018 that Michael would mainstream for high school, I got an Afrikaans tutor for him as I knew his abilities in that language were lacking. He has worked hard to get on top of his deficiencies.

When he started high school this year, Michael was one of the only boys, out of 150, that didn’t know anyone. He was the only boy who transitioned to his high school from his primary school. The first week was hard and he felt very tired. One the second day of school, the boys wrote an Afrikaans test to see what their level of proficiency in the language was and Michael failed. As a result, he is now attending extra lessons in this language at the school as well as at home. When he came home with a 60% result, I was ecstatic. This mark is an indication of his perseverance and resilience, and I will be delighted if he can maintain this mark for the next five years.

Obtaining his Afrikaans result on the same day as Gregory’s mathematics result made me reflect on the differences in my two sons and how I perceive their achievements. I my eyes, their achievements are equal as the input was equal.

This reflection on how we need to consider out children separately and not measure them against their siblings and peers inspired this post. Each of our children is special in their own way and each deserves to be measured against his own input and ability levels and not those of others.

About Robbie Cheadle

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Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  • Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
  • Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
  • Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
  • Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Goodreads: Robbie Cheadle – Goodreads

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books


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59 Comments on “My experience of obtaining a balance with parental approval”

  1. tidalscribe says:

    How true. The Wing Commander and the pysiotherapist now depend on their younger brother to fix up their houses. After avoiding education of any sort he has picked up many skills along the way. Because my brother was the same I totally accepted him being different!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A terrific post Robbie and your sons are very lucky to have a mother who considers her approach to her approval in such a way… It is something that not all education systems allow for with a ‘one size fits all’ curriculum and examination process. Have pressed for tomorrow afternoon…thanks for hosting Kaye Lynne.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. joylennick says:

    Vive la difference, Robbie.Your two sons sound like two to be proud of.
    I have three sons. The eldest is very cerebral and artistic: at art, design, photography and writing. A real thinker, reader and ‘bleeds for the world… ‘ Has done much charity work. Our middle son is not as cerebral, moves at twice the pace of his elder brother. BUT he is a ‘people person’ and a ‘Del boy’ caring, with a good heart. Our youngest is a real ‘go getter,’ can turn his hand at many things (give him a piece of wood and he’ll make something…) He’s an imaginative designer and is said to ‘charm the birds from the trees.’ He is also generous. Now grown up, all three are worthy people I am proud of, and are lucky to have a good sense of humour. I love ’em all to bits. Aren’t we lucky Mums! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are indeed, very fortunate, Joy. My boys bring me a lot of pleasure and happiness and, so far, no grief and angst. Your boys sound terrific. We can’t all be the same or there would be no artistic endevours in this world which really needs them.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Robbie's inspiration and commented:

    I am over at Writing to be Read with a post about my experience of obtaining a balance with parental approval. Thank you, Kaye Lynne Booth, for hosting me. I would love to know how others manage the variety of abilities and work ethics in their families so let me know what you think in the comments.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. petespringerauthor says:

    Kudos on your parenting skills, Robbie. This parenting business is not for the faint of heart, but I think your approach is just right. You are right not to compare your boys’ achievements to one another. Your younger son may become more of a student as he matures and finds something he is passionate about. It may be harder for your older son to make friends, but hopefully, he can find his niche. I think it’s equally important to pay attention to our kids’ academic and social development.

    Since you taught, I’m sure you realize how often this situation happens. I taught so many siblings over the years that were so different from one another. It can be especially hard on a less academically inclined child when the parents compare him/her to a sibling. The much wiser approach, which you are utilizing, is to have children focus on their own improvement. I know what was especially important to me besides the academic and social growth of our son was that he grew up to be a decent and happy person. We’ve had our share of challenges (all parents do), but we’ve managed to raise an independent young man (27) who makes us proud.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It sounds like your son has turned out really well, Pete. My main aim as a parent is to have balanced and happy sons who fulfill their roles in society by becoming responsible and diligent employees [or entrepreneurs], husbands and fathers. If their path leads them on a different journey to the well worn one I have described, that is okay as long as the same principles apply.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Teri Polen says:

    My boys are a bit older, but you and I have faced very similar challenges, Robbie. It’s a struggle, but one I think you’re handling exceptionally well. You can’t compare one son’s progress to the other – they’re individuals and we all move along at our own speed and learn differently. Wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wrote this post, Teri, following a bit of an epiphany when I realised that not all parents judge their children on their own merits. It gave me pause to reflect on how I feel about it and this post is the outcome. I am so glad you also approach parenting in this way. It seems so much more fair to children.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Informative post, Robbie. I think you are doing the right thing, allowing each child to develop according to his own pace. Thank you, Kaye for featuring Robbie today.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jim Borden says:

    it’s wonderful that you have recognized the different learning styles and interests of each of your boys, and are committed to helping them succeed, however that is defined. I wish you continued success with Michael and Gregory!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. […] via My experience of obtaining a balance with parental approval […]

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wise words on parenting and allowing each of our children to be his/her OWN SELF. Your approach is right on. Lucky boys. Lucky you to be their mom!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Mary Smith says:

    A fascinating post, Robbie. I only have one son so there was never the risk of comparisons. I think your approach sounds ideal.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Darlene says:

    You are such a great mom! This is the perfect attitude. I have seen so many young people with behavior issues and many times it is because the parents tried to make them something they are not. (Putting square pegs in round holes). And comparing siblings is never good. My son did not do well in school but now supervises 40 men on a road construction crew and earns a good wage. A great article.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I would say that you are an exceptionally good mother! What you’ve described is a hard balance to achieve for many parents, but it is so needed for children to grow up feeling good about themselves, their abilities, and their relationship with their parents.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Liz, many people want to impose their ideas of a good career choice or good life decisions on their children, regardless of aptitude and interest. I don’t think that is fair. Who wants to spend their life as an accountant if they hate working with numbers? I am to bring my boys up to make their own choices in line with their interests as I want them to be happy. Money doesn’t bring happiness and fulfillment. I can vouch for that and I have a high paying job.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. You are an inspiration, Robbie! Michael and Gregory are so lucky you understand, encourage them and work with them to reach their full potentials. Great parenting tips! 🙂 Sharing…

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you for a amazing and very motivation post, too. I will recommend it to all my acquaintances with children. Why i am not wonderful about you family wide interest in books and knowledge itself? 😉 Robbie, you are a gem, and gemstones are shining. :-)) Like my own eperiences told me, you cant always swim with the masses, when you want to have to reach you own goals. Have a wonderful weekend, stay free from the virus! Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Norah says:

    Fabulous, Robbie. The way you are treating your sons, tempering your praise to their individual achievements, is praiseworthy. I like the way you have explained it for others to understand the importance of doing the same for their children.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Norah. I wrote this post after reading some posts to the parent Whatsapp group at Michael’s new high school. Parents shouldn’t pressure their children to achieve things that they themselves could not achieve. We can’t live our lives through our children. My biological father was very artistic. He wanted to be a painter and go and study in France. His father made him go to University and study to be an accountant. He died young and never fulfilled his dream. I try to keep a balance in my own life between my corporate work and my creative life. I have learned to say no and put my foot down.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Norah says:

        I think it’s great that you speak up with so much wisdom for parents, Robbie. I’m sorry to hear about your biological father. That is very sad. I don’t think my father ever had the opportunity of living up to his potential either. I think there are far more opportunities for many of us (in the Western world anyway) today. Like you, we all need to learn when and how to say, ‘No’.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. It is so important to celebrate every thing our children do, no matter how big or small or how well they do.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Steve Tanham says:

    Tender and insightful, Robbie. They are lucky to have you adapt to their needs so beautifully. Success and maturity come in many forms.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Jennie says:

    This post is wonderful, Robbie. All children don’t fit into the same box. Your message of appreciating, encouraging, and enjoying (and of course loving) your children is a poster for parents, and especially for teachers.

    Liked by 2 people


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