Parenting Whiplash

Sometimes you have to parent your children differently because they have different personalities.

Don't get hung up on my typo, y'all.
Don’t get hung up on my typo, y’all.

Here’s a for instance. One of my children texted me from school yesterday that he only needs an average of 19 in government, 33 in biology, and 33 in English this last 6 weeks to graduate. At this very moment, my other child is busy preparing for the STAAR test she’ll take later this week. She’s planning healthy breakfast menus to maximize brain function, setting multiple alarms so as not to oversleep, sharpening pencils, and choosing books to take so she’ll have something to do when she finishes.

It’s parenting whiplash.

If you don’t live in Texas, and are wondering what the STAAR is, it’s the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, and the latest public school microcosm to highlight the anxiety of some students and apathy of others. Now that I think about it, school in general provides lots of opportunities for parents to be confused by the differences in personalities between their children.

I should point out here that both of my kids are completely awesomtastic. They’re smart and witty and fun. That said, I understand that they have different temperaments and needs (see above for instance). What that means is that sometimes I say something to one and then something quite the opposite to the other.

Since it’s List Wednesday, I’ll go ahead and show you what I mean.

No TV Week:
to child A: I don’t care if your teacher said it’s “No TV Week.” We didn’t sign up for that. I promise it will be okay. Some rules are made to be broken, like the kind that try to keep me from watching Survivor. Besides, there’s a Spongebob marathon coming on in 13 minutes. Popcorn?

to child B: You watch too much TV. Turn it off and read a book or something.

sticky handto child A: Selling 10 items is only a suggestion. Relax, it’s not due for two more weeks. I’ll buy you a giant sticky hand from The Dollar Store if you don’t earn it as a prize. 

to child B: Your fundraising packet is due tomorrow. Here it is, wadded up in the bottom of your backpack. What’s this brown stuff all over it? Never mind. Put me down for one scented candle. Yes, I’ll buy you a giant sticky hand…since you worked so hard and everything.

to child A: You have a 99 average in that class. Why are you studying? Let’s go shopping.

to child B: Do you have any homework? Because yesterday you said you didn’t have any homework, and I noticed on PowerSchool that you had a test today. Yes, that grade is impressive, considering you didn’t study one minute for it. But yes, tests do too count as homework. Turn off the PS3 right now and go study something.

to child A: You have a fever. You have to stay home from school. Also, I was thinking we could spend the day together next month on your birthday…lunch and shopping. Well, yeah, it’s a school day, but it’s okay to miss every once in a while. No? Yes, I suppose you’re right. You might have a pop quiz that day.

to child B: You’re not throwing up. Get out of bed. You’re going to school.

to child A: It’s 18 degrees and there’s ice all over the road. I don’t know why they didn’t cancel school today. If I drive any faster, we’ll end up in the ditch. Relax. Yes, they will understand if you’re a little late.

to child B: Are you kidding me? Get out of bed. You already have 6 tardies in first period, and it’s only the 5th week of school.

Standardized Tests:
to child A: There is no reason to be stressed about this test. You’re going to do great, like always. And even if it’s incredibly hard and you somehow don’t, it doesn’t matter to me.

to child B: You better get serious about this test right now, because if you mess it up you will not graduate, no girl will ever want to date you, and you will live a miserable, pitiful existence for the rest of your life.

I might have embellished a few of those, but you get the idea. How are your kids different?

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Donna Wright

I have the same thing here. I kept grades of high school required subjects since we homeschooled. I would list each test inside the folder with averages each quarter. Both kids made A’s but one usually was between 98 and 100 (with agony for any point marked off) and the other one was 89.5 – 91.2. Interesting point though–when I would give cumulative end of year tests (only did this is the book had one), the lower grade kid always did better, always, no exceptions. I think it was because the deductive skills one has to utilize when you don’t study every single thing got a lot more use and were more developed. Said student also CLEP ed 18 hours of classes for college and surprised me. Kid got out in 3 years by CLEPing a bunch of hours and saved a year’s tuition. This is the same kid I had to prod to at least write something in blanks on worksheets or tests.


This literally made me laugh out loud. I don’t have kids of my own yet, but this is 100% how it was for me growing up with my brother. And I feel compelled to mention that I would be Child A in our scenario. 🙂


I once got grounded and then forced to go hang out with people.
Also, at one point my parents levied a financial tax against me since sending me to my room didn’t faze me.
My sister on the other hand? Totally different.
Life is funny like that.
Makes me appreciate good parents like mine and you/Clay who recognize that.


I would be grounded from seeing People, told to stay inside and kiss my social agenda goodbye.
My brother on the other hand? Grounded and made to go out and socialize. I actually remember him coming with me on my homecoming date 🙂
He’s a saver, I’m a spender
He was a little quieter, I can be loud
He is a studier and brilliantly gifted……. I like to talk to people and studying gives me a headache 🙂


Wow…were you a fly on the wall in our house during those years? You have just described the school/college years in our family. Thank goodness my children are 26 and 28 now and on their own. And by the grace of God, may I add, they are both successful adults! Who would have known? ha! This gave me a good laugh!


My own kids?
One is a social butterfly and has NEVER met a stranger. Her birthing experience should have been an indicator that she would be strong willed and stubborn. She rarely wants to be snuggled and LOVES being the center of attention

The other is a snuggler, quiet, easiest birth ever, shy but so gentle and loving.

I love seeing how God works


Chores: If I send a text from work telling my girls what I need done today… Oldest will text back to acknowledge, do the chore and possibly something extra before I get home. Second child might text back and will eventually do the chore (especially if I offer to pay her..heehee). 3rd child will not confirm text will not complete chore and will likely be off in the neighborhood hanging with friends when I get home claiming she never got the text. To get 3rd child to complete chore I just take her phone…chore gets completed instantly!

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