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Bah Humbug Unless New Year’s Resolutions Are Put Into Perspective

Make sure resolutions include trust, support and caring

New Media on Ulitzer

Dear Dr. Fournier:

I almost don’t know where to start. We are exactly where we were this time last year. My son did not do so well this semester in school, even though he’s smart. He didn’t do well this past spring semester either or fall semester of last year. 

And at this time last year, we made New Year’s resolutions. He promised to do better, hand in all his homework and bring up his C’s and D’s and his B’s and C’s. I had him write these down and sign the paper last year and I posted it on the refrigerator.

I’m sure you see this coming: His resolutions are still on the refrigerator and he’s still making C’s and D’s and not doing and handing in all his homework. I am at my wit’s end and tired of the fighting. Any suggestions or help would be appreciated.


Glenda M. 
Tulsa, OK

Dear Glenda:

As the New Year begins, many families will make resolutions about school or homework. Many of these resolutions will be promises to do better from the child coupled with pleas from parents for better and calmer relationships between parent and child. 


In our desire to be good parents who prepare our children for life, we easily allow school to take over our lives. As school becomes the main connection between child and parent, the primary family needs get lost. 

I have counseled parents and children for 30 years on this issue and I hear this over and over again. I can tell you, this is one of the most common problems between parent and child about school. And, here are some of the most common New Year’s resolutions children make: 

I’ll do better in school. 
I’ll do my homework, and hand it in on time. 
I’ll make the honor roll.

A child may also quietly say to himself or herself about these resolutions:

I’ll show them I can do it.

Parents make resolutions as well:

I’ll be a better parent. 
I’ll help my child get organized. 
I’ll stop getting upset and yelling when I help with homework. 
I’m getting out of doing homework by making my child understand it is his responsibility.

While making New Year’s resolutions are fine, if we are to have any hope for success, then we must assess why these longstanding wishes are not a reality. 

Do any of the following statements ring true? 

I have no peace anymore. 
All we do is homework.
I dread evenings at home. 
I have grounded, punished, screamed, and nothing works. 
We have no family time anymore.
I’m exhausted.

We live in financial times in which having a good education is increasingly important for our children. Caring parents are listening daily to gloomy predictions about a dead-end life without education. 

It is easy to believe good grades in school are the primary ingredient for success in life. And, poor grades easily drain a family’s strength as energy is misplaced in on-and-off bouts of fear, anger and guilt. 


Glenda, before you and your son write your New Year’s resolutions, think through the following:

  1. Remember when your child was a preschooler, and homework and grades were not yet a part of your relationship. Remember when the key ingredients were showing him your concern, affection and the joy of taking care of him.
  2. Remember when you taught your child to ride a bike. It took teaching him and him learning how to ride the bike before you could achieve the desired resolution that your son will ride a bike.
  3. Remember when school started and math facts came along. The goal was for your son to know them so will he would never miss one. But it was achieved through a resolution to carry out a process that would allow him to achieve his goal. Learn the ones, then the twos, mix them up, find the ones not recalled, go over those more and then add the threes and so forth. The goal was achieved because the resolution to carry out the process happened.

A goal is a desired outcome to be achieved by the resolve to fulfill a resolution to define and commit to a process that will result in success. When the resolution is the process of trust, support and caring, there is no place for fear, anger and guilt. Consider these New Year’s resolutions for yourself: 

I will set aside talking/fun time with my child each day. Even five minutes is better than none.

I refuse to continue relating to my son with fear, anger and guilt. I know my child is bright. He just lacks the process we will both be accountable for carrying out.

We will set resolutions instead of goals (end results). We will set up processes that will bring about success. 

We will both hold ourselves accountable for doing our part of every process.

Help your child focus once more on the ties of trust, support and caring. This is what family and parents are meant to do. 


Have a question about education, education-related issues or your child’s schoolwork or homework? Ask Dr. Fournier and look for her answer in this column. E-mail your question or comment to Dr. Yvonne Fournier at [email protected]

More Stories By Dr. Yvonne Fournier

Dr. Yvonne Fournier is Founder and President of Fournier Learning Strategies. Her column, "Hassle-Free Homework" was published by the Scripps Howard News Service for 20 years. She has been a pharmacist, public health administrator, demographer and entrepreneur. Dr. Fournier, arguably one of the most prolific of educators and child advocates in America today, has followed her own roadmap, calling not just for change or improvement in education but for an entirely new model.

She remains one of the most controversial opponents of the current education system in America.

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