I Am Not Doing My Homework!

The freedom to let children make their own choice in regards to homework is a tough one for parents. At what age to start and how much responsibility to let children take are questions many parents struggle with.

When do we let children and teens not do their homework and suffer the repercussions.  When do we not pencil in the answer for our child because its just easier?  When do we let go and allow children to relish in the rewards and become upset at the consequences?  How about now?

“Now?” you ask.  But, my child needs me to hound at them to get their homework done or else they don’t get a good education.  But my child is going to refuse to write in the answer if I don’t do it for her.  And what if she gets a detention?  Won’t that reflect on me as a parent?

Parents are chalked full of reasons why something is never a good time.  While they may seem valid, they don’t always have a lot of clout.   Being a parent is a full time job, which includes the role of “life teacher.”

One way we help kids is to teach them about responsibility.  Parents can teach responsibility with the natural consequences and rewards of the world.  When you parent from this angle, you begin to take the power struggle out of the parenting.  It isn’t your fault your child missed recess for not doing their homework.  A child has no one to hold accountable but themselves.

I am not saying you should abandon your child all together.  Help them to have a homework time.  Set aside time when you or another capable person is available to help as needed.  Keep in mind to help your child and not “do” for them.  Children don’t learn this way.

Work on slowly exposing them to taking more responsibility for their work.  If last year you sat by their side and helped them with every problem, move towards stepping away for a few minutes and then coming back to check and provide support.  Small steps to change are the way to go for many children.

Empower your child in their ability to be successful.  Reflect on past successes and times you saw how good they felt when they mastered a concept and got the natural reward of earning recess or raising their GPA.

If you are unsure of your child’s level of readiness for responsibility, check with their teacher.  The teacher sees your child 5 days a week and should have a good idea as to where they should be performing academically and how much responsibility they can take.

Lastly, with whatever parenting strategy you implement, be clear and consistent.  If you say you will be back in 5 minutes to check on them, be back in 5.  When you come back in 2 minutes because they are flipping out you are not being clear and consistent.  Children will learn they can get you attention and even get the answer if they flip out.  Not exactly the message you want to send.

Affirmation
I am solid in the ways I choose to support my child.

To Date Or Not To Date? That Is The Question.

While John Mayer may not be the role model fathers are looking towards, he certainly has mothers and fathers alike getting teary-eyed as he sings, “Fathers be good to your daughters. Daughters will love like you do….”


My mind immediately flashed to the weddings I attended as I watched brides and their fathers sway to such a sweet song. I admittedly think of my own daughters on their wedding days, hopefully lightening years away, marrying someone as sweet as their own father.

“Twenty-seven.” “Forty.” “Never.” The answers many teen girls reveal when talking about the age their father’s say they can date. How protective they are.

And to a degree, rightfully so. Men know what it is like to be a boy and would never allow anyone close to their own child who may represent the male pubescent side of who they used to be.

So when is it ok for teens to start dating? While “never” seems like a good answer to many parents, they are asking for a host of defiance, sneaking out, anger, shutting down and all other sorts of feelings and behaviors which arise when teens are ready to take a step towards growing up.

Going slow might be a good step for parents and a good step for teens as they begin to embark on this new social venture. Group dates or hosting boy/girl get togethers at your house is a good first step. You can dictate the pace of slow.

With any new privilege teens need to show responsibility and an ability to follow the rules set forth. If a parent catches their child making out, you now have an open window to talk about a multitude of things. Seize the opportunity to give your child information and process acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Yes, they will hate this. You may too. Teens still need guidance and hear the message of what is OK and not OK.

Sure teens get fuel on breaking the rules and making parents crazy, but deep inside, they carry our words. Adults help create their conscience. If parents say nothing, it gives teens silent permission. Be the voice of experience and reason. Keep it short and offer an open door policy for them to talk with you anytime.

There is no right answer as to when teens should be allowed to date. The fact is, dating can mean so many things. Talk with your teen and be open to their needs and ideas and look towards negotiating if their requests are a little out of the box.

Affirmation
Breathe.

The Buzz

Youth are buzzing with the newness of the school year. They carry a certain energy. A bit of optimism that this year will be good, maybe a little different than the last.

When I think of the difference many would like to see, it involves kids being nicer to one another. Giving one another the respect as a human being to just be kind.

I know this is difficult for many kids, especially those trying to find their place. The freshmen, the seventh graders, and anyone new to a school. Sometimes putting someone down in front of the right group of kids could get you in. Get you a little status. And get those kids potentially off your back.

The targets of this behavior tend to minimize. “Its okay. Not a big deal,” they tell other people. But it is apparent how those digs really effect youth. It can slowly chip away at their self-esteem to the point where your kid is doing extra work during break time so they can avoid people in the hall versus enjoying a little work-free social time.

As a parent, it is important to be aware of what school is like for your child. I know many times they might not tell you. Despite this looming fact, you should still ask. Still show you care and you are interested. It might be the day your child really needs to talk. For some kids, it can be difficult to start the conversation. In fact, it can come out twisted. They act angry, irritable, and are out of sorts.

Has someone ever asked you a question and your upper lip tightened and out streamed a few warm tears? You weren’t planning on crying and letting it out but there it was. All someone needed to do was ask. Imagine if that person loved you unconditionally and could give you the support you needed. You are that person for your child.

So how do you ask and get a little sustenance? It is an art and open ended questions are the way to go. Anything with a yes/no answer is sure to make your conversation last seconds. Instead of, “Did you do anything at school today?” You could try, “What was the best part of your day? What was the worst? What did you do at lunch? Who was there?…..” The questions are endless. If you aren’t used to doing this already, it may seem a little daunting. Try anyway.

Truth be told, your kid may not want to talk. But what if they do? What if they are really needing you? Wouldn’t you want to be there?

AFFIRMATION

I open the door to healthy communication by giving myself the opportunity to listen and my child the opportunity to talk.