Is your child a success?

How would you react if your child came home with a C in math on their report card? Probably not like the father in this viral youtube video that put Farnoosh Shahrokhshahi and his son, Aria, on the Today Show. As one of the hosts of the show commented, this father’s reaction is one of the “purest expressions of love”.

Aria had a failing grade at the beginning of the semester in math, but as his father explains in the video, students in Britain need at least a passing grade (a “C”) to be able to go to college. With this in mind, the two of them worked together to bring up Aria’s grade, and bring it up they did. After his final test in January, he came home with exactly what he wanted: a passing grade.

But what might seem like a mediocre grade deserving punishment to some parents was received with such joy and celebration from this father that you would have thought his son had just won the Nobel Prize in physics. After seeing this father’s reaction (and the effect it had on his son), I realized again how important it is to not just understand that there are varying definitions of “success” for each child, but to celebrate those successes like crazy.

The truth is, success is as individual of a matter as personality type, and the sooner a parent can figure out their child’s strengths and corresponding capacity for success, the better they will be able to create encouraging experiences that generate even more success. (You’ve got to believe that’s true after watching this. And by the way, the young man is now in college.)

Personally, I’ve always struggled with making realistic goals and expectations for both my children and myself. After all, if you don’t set high goals, you’ll never get anywhere, right? But expecting too much from either yourself or your children can backfire depending on the outcome. It’s a tricky balancing act most of us have yet to master.

It also doesn’t help when parents and children have very different talents and capacities for success. An over-achieving (over-anxious, over-bearing) parent may have a hard time learning to give this kind of unconditional love and acceptance to a child who isn’t meeting their high and super-specific expectations. Not all children are “chips of the old block”, and learning to love our children for who they really are is one of the inherent rights and responsibilities of parenthood.

Again, this young man just got a “C” in math–nothing extraordinary–but you can feel the love and support his father extends to him for doing his personal best. It begs the question, what will help a child the most in life anyway? An “A” or the unconditional love and support of a parent? Obviously, both are important, but I think the overwhelming response to this youtube video answers that question. People respond to love more than any other thing.

You may not be the super emotive type that breaks into tears like this dad did in the video, but true feelings of joy and love will come through in whatever way they are expressed. You can never go wrong with love. By helping our children figure out their true capacity for success, working with them to reach realistic goals, and celebrating with them like crazy when they dosucceed, we not only prepare them for more success, but we enjoy some of the sweetest experiences and feelings that parenthood has to offer. If you ask me, that’s a real A+.

QUESTION: How are you and your child(ren) different in terms of capacity for success? How do you help your child make realistic goals and reach them? Are you able to rejoice in your child’s successes even if they are less than you hoped for or fail to meet other people’s criteria for success?

CHALLENGE: Identify your child’s strengths and capacity for success, help them make and reach realistic goals, and then celebrate with them like crazy when they do succeed.



  1. Cat

    I have 4 kids with variying degrees of dsylexia. Since this particular disability isn’t recognized where I live, help has been spotty at best. My 2nd son struggled through High School. It wasn’t until his senior year when we discovered that he also had ADD. I tried everything to help this kid in class. We finally managed to get all his failed classes made up in one way or another two months after graduation. We threw him a party. He got his diploma. I learned from that experience that each kid needs their own goals and measures.

    My oldest daughter has the worst time with school. Her dsylexia is quite sevre. She struggled with biology. She took the class 3 times before she managed to pass it. My only request is that she handed in all her work. I don’t get upset with F’s if all the work is done. She handed in her work everytime. I never got upset. I just asked her what her plan was to pass the class the next time and then supported her in that.

    • Allyson Reynolds

      Thanks for this, Cat. Perfect example of what I’m talking about in this post. Your kids are lucky to have you!

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