How not to tell your parents you got an F

Upon starting college last September, I started receiving the Cengage Brain newsletter every week because one of my books for a class was published by them. I haven’t unsubscribed from it because I haven’t felt like it (even though I don’t really read them), although I do consider it at times.

This is one time I am glad I did not unsubscribe.

In the most recent newsletter (sent out last Wednesday, May 21), there was a heading and description that read as follows:

It’s time to tell your parents about your bad grade

You see a big fat “F” as your final grade in a class. Maybe you’re not concerned over it, but that doesn’t mean your parents aren’t. You still have to break the bad news. Check out our tips to help cushion the blow.

Although I have not made an F (and I will not be making F’s in any of my classes, let’s get that straight right now), last night I clicked the link to the Cengage Brainiac blog post and proceeded to read it, partly for kicks but also because I was frustrated with Algebra homework and needed a short break.

The first think I see in their blog post entitled “Mom and Dad, I got a bad grade in college” is a meme. I’m not one who really likes memes to begin with, but seeing this image in an (assuming) professional blog from a major textbook publisher caused me to do a double take. However, I went passed it and read more of the post.

Right after the image, the writer cuts to the chase: how to break the news. They quote a blog post written by someone else. The writer presents three options: lie, fudge the truth, or tell the truth. In each one, the writer says what majors should use which method. While lying was simply if you could pull it off, fudging the truth would be good for English majors because you can use many adjectives to distract your parents, even though “[t]hey won’t fall for this one for long, but it might buy you enough time for one last blow out with your friends before your parents put down the hammer”, while telling the truth is for philosophy majors who can somehow spin it into a confusing argument. I am now appalled they would even suggest lying (because even telling partial truth is lying).

However, the post goes on. Now quoting another writer of a different blog post, they give suggestions on how to move past a bad grade and what to do if you totally failed a class.

“The cardinal rule of breaking this kind of news to the rents is to think on your feet and constantly remain a victim. Remind them of how much you love them, how disappointed you are in yourself, and express a healthy amount of self-loathing.”

Also tears are never a bad idea, and feel free to try the “but I’m already torturing myself, so there’s no need to lay on any additional punishment” route. If that one works for you, you probably don’t need college because you’re already a skilled con artist.

By this time, my only reaction is “Are you serious? Is this really what the post is suggesting?” Suddenly, the post ended, with no further information, notes, updates, anything. I had been quoting this quote to some people online as I read it, and they too were appalled by what this post was suggesting. I scrolled on down to the comments section to see any reactions to the post. There were only six comments on the post (half by the same person). One was written by a person named Sara. An excerpt of her comment follows.

Is this article a joke?… I don’t necessarily care how successful the person who wrote this article is. As a student, where is the academic integrity if we can’t start with our family? You want to teach young adults to bend the truth and to lie to their parents over something stupid like a grade? Way to show us how to be grown ups!

This was how I felt about the post as well. Here we have a professional company writing a professional blog to help college students with various situations, with this particular article being sent out in their newsletter, and very bad advice has been given. One of writers or managers of the blog replies to Sara, saying the article was supposed to be “a bit tongue-in-cheek”. You could have fooled me, Sara, the people I was talking to, and anyone else who read the article and felt the same way. There was no indication this was supposed to be a humorous article about how to deal with an actual, saddening, and stressful (for the student and parents) event. If it was supposed to be funny, it needed to be stated it was supposed to be and not give an excuse saying such after the fact.

We as young adults, here in this adult, professional, collegiate setting should strive to be men and women of integrity, honesty, maturity, and of outstanding standing character. We should also be a role model to the teenagers and children younger than us, so they will grow up to be the same way. Yes, events such as getting a bad grade and failing classes happen, but as young adults we should be “man enough”, if you will, to confess our failings plainly and truthfully, without even considering such childish attempts of avoiding the inevitable. Does telling the truth make the consequences any lighter? Does it make telling your parents easier? No, but doing what was said in that post, including trying to confuse your parents and obscuring the facts only makes matters worse. Furthermore, your parents are not going to totally disown you for a bad grade. They were your age once, and more likely than not they went through the same experiences you have, are, and will experience. You will pay for your failure, something people call karma, but is actually a Biblical truth (whatever a man sows, that he will also reap), but lying about what has happened only increases that “bad luck”.

My advice to you, in case you missed it. In tough circumstances like these, and even in non-college related happenings, is to tell the simple truth. Just as witnesses in court must promise to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”, you should be truthful.

Mom, dad, I made a bad grade and have to retake the class. This happened because I was doing this thing instead of focusing on my studies. I’m sorry.

In this case, honesty is truly the best policy. Be a good role model to your friends, peers, kids, and adults all around you by just doing what is right. After all, you know what is said, “What goes around comes around.” If you do wrong (not study), you will get wrong (bad grade or failed class). If you good (tell the truth), however, good will come back to you, and good is always more enjoyable, beneficial, and abundant that bad can and will ever be. 🙂


3 thoughts on “How not to tell your parents you got an F

  1. This is really true.However,my parents never got less than B’s,so i have a BIG problem over my grades.
    I got an F in geography a week ago,and my parents still dont know – why?
    I thought “i can ask the teacher to take a new test” but i realized – even if i do that,i would still have that F written,and my parents will see it on the card.
    Also,my geography teacher is also my “main teacher” or whatever you call it (im from Serbia),and she has meetings with parents to discuss over the student’s grades.I heard my parents talking about going,and its tomorrow as well.So i am really nervous about that.
    So now my plan:
    i have geography tomorrow.I think im gonna ask the teacher to take a new test,and then ill tell my parents.
    But-should i lie to my parents and tell them the meeting isn’t happening? Cause if they go,they will find out much more.
    Im a good student in general,i had 3 B’s at the end of the first semester and everything else is A’s,and i was one of the best in previous grades.
    So yeah,i have a problem.
    Im mad at myself for not telling them last week,but now i’ve got a plan.
    I hope everything will go fine,and ill just get a punishment and nothing else.

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