One of the things I love the most about my kids’ school is how much they focus on the positive attributes of my children. I have never gotten a negative comment about their academic performance or behavior without a teacher also listing off a strength that they have. This does go quite a ways to softening the blow, but just like in my own life, the negative is what I hear the most.
I have never understood why some parents do their child’s school project for them. My posters for school were always sloppy and lopsided, my kid’s can be too. I’m not making any planets out of paper mach’e for a science project. I always attributed this to the fact that I am the opposite of a perfectionist. Perfectionists annoy me, to be perfectly honest. But now I am starting to slowly see why some parents do it. It sucks to hear bad things about your kids!
We are in pretty steady communication with our children’s teachers. There are daily assignment notebooks or behavior logs that are signed off on by the teachers. There are weekly newsletters about upcoming tests, learning objectives, and spelling words. There is really no reason why I should be caught unawares but it happens. ALL THE TIME!
I recently changed jobs and went from working full-time to part-time. This has helped with the evening/after school stress level in our house immensely. I felt way more on top of things. The table was cleared off and ready for homework, for Pete’s sake! It just took away a tiny bit of consistency that there had been previously. Homework had primarily been completed after school during homework time in after-school care. Now some days it is done at home. This seemed to be going well. I had it under control. Then I got the mid-quarter progress reports, and then some bad behavior reports, and then a reading log that hadn’t been filled in for a couple weeks!
I am not sure what line of crap my kids had been selling me, but clearly it wasn’t all true and I felt like I was the one in trouble. I was the one who was failing. I was the one who wasn’t bringing my reading book home. I was the one not studying my math facts. I was the one being disruptive in class. I felt completely responsible for their behavior and performance even though logically I know that this is not true.
It clearly can’t be just me who wishes that they could be sitting in class right next to their child, reminding them to raise their hand or to turn in all the papers for an assignment. This is where it clicks for me. This is why parents do their kid’s projects, to avoid the feeling of guilt and failure you get as a parent when your child doesn’t do well.
I have told my kids from day one it isn’t my responsibility to to remember to do their homework or to get things signed. I also tell them they are responsible for their own choices and behavior and the consequences that come with. Well now it turns out that they aren’t doing the work or making good choices. Now what?
Am I a slacker parent if my daughter starts getting detentions for being unprepared because I didn’t sign her assignment notebook? How am I supposed to make sure my son reads his assigned reading if the book never comes home? Do I accuse my child of lying every time they tell me something like studying or reading is finished? Do I want to make them feel like I don’t trust them because when I get to the root of it, I was embarrassed that I had no idea that things weren’t being completed?
Parent/Teacher conferences are this week. I am preparing myself, like I do every time, to feel guilty and embarrassed when I hear about what they need to work on. I shouldn’t. I need to pump myself up. I have made a conscious choice of how I want to parent my children and that includes their education and if needs be, I will explain that to the teacher. I am sticking to my guns. I am still going to make them be responsible for their own work and choices. I can just do my part by making sure they have what they need at home to do well.
When I found out that things weren’t going quite as well as I thought this school year, I made some changes at home. We moved bed time up. We set clear rules about homework and when it will be done. We cut out all video games and tablets during the week and have temporarily cut out some family activities during the week. We are slowing it down and focusing on what needs to get done. We are having discussions about reading assignments instead of me asking if they are sure they did their reading. I am making myself available to quiz them on the material they studied.
The fact is my children do not have to get 100 percent on every assignment or behave perfectly all the time. They are learning. I am learning how to better help them learn. We are working on this together. It isn’t a bad thing that I feel a little responsibility when I see something isn’t going well. It gives me the opportunity to evaluate whether or not what we have going on at home is working for not. And maybe it is and they just are going to have to learn that detentions happen when you don’t turn things in on time. And maybe it isn’t and they are just going to have to hear me quote Jerry McGuire. “Help me help you. Help me help you! Help me. Help you!”