Just when I thought there was an outside chance that my children were all perfect in every way, the U.S. Postal Service delivered a dose of reality. It came in the shape of an automatically generated form letter, and I was extremely surprised to see what my child was up to.

The letter was from Abilene I.S.D., notifying me that my son was having trouble in one of his classes. Actually, he’s failing Math. While my parents got letters home regularly regarding my misbehavior, clowning around, poor grades, and other random offenses, this is the first notification of this kind I’ve ever received about my own kid. Until this point, I wondered if my childhood traits had skipped a generation. I guess not.

Things could be worse, I suppose. I haven’t been greeted by Abilene D.P.S. at my front door (yet). But what do I do? As a parent, I’m obligated to take some responsibility for my kids’ grades and make sure he is performing to the best of his ability at school. But he’s old enough that he should be able to keep track of his schoolwork.

I know my son is smart enough to get grades we can both be proud of, but what’s the best way to wake him up and motivate him? I could yell at him, but that never worked on me when I was his age. I could ground him, but again, it had no effect on my grades back in the day.

What would you do if you were in this situation?