So, let’s imagine it was your freshman high-school student, who is hanging by a thread in their biology class told you the teacher lost five of her homework assignments. What would you do? How would you handle it? Would you call the school? Email the teacher? Get mad at your kid? Maybe you’d do nothing? I hope you respond below before you keep reading. Makes it more interesting for all of us that way. 😉
My daughter isn’t a perfect student, but in her nine years of school I’ve rarely been contacted by teachers saying she’s misbehaving or being disrespectful. I don’t find it to be a pattern that she misses turning in her assignments. She seems to get them turned in for the most part. She’s a good student and does make honor roll sometimes. The progress report I saw today told a very different story, I have to say I was truly disappointed. Education is something we take seriously around here and when my children don’t take their education seriously, I can kind of go off the deep end. At least that’s their experience of me. I am self admittedly imperfect. 🙂
I don’t expect straight A’s, honor roll or anything extreme. I do have an expectation of my kids giving 110% effort to make sure they’re getting and taking advantage of every opportunity provided to them to get a good education. They don’t necessarily listen to me or live up to my expectations, but it’s certainly in the back of their minds when they want my help on issues like this. They know any help from me will come at a price of answering a lot of questions about their role in the situation they find themselves in. I’m all about empowering my kids by showing them their role in any situation they find themselves in, both good and the not so good.
Psssst…Sometimes my older kids laugh at my younger kids when they ask me for help on certain things they know I will not step in and assist on. They say things like “nice try, you didn’t actually think mom would help you with that did you? Ha! That’s funny…you’re funny!” Or, “you know that’s the sort of thing that mom wants you to learn from, she’s not going to help you or give you answer, I can’t even believe you asked her.” Last week one of the kids wanted me to pick them up early from school with no good reason as to why. When my 27 year old heard the story later that afternoon, she laughed out loud saying “You thought mom would come pull you out of school! Ha! Ha! You’re funny…you can’t get those stories by mom! I never called mom when I wanted to get out of school, I would call my dad.“
This is how I responded to my daughter:
My response to my daughter was to confirm she was being truthful with me. She said she was. I told her it would probably be a good idea to go to the school counselor’s office to get advice on how to handle the situation. I also suggested that she might be able to set up a time to meet with her counselor and her teacher to work through the problem. Five missing assignments is a huge problem, that’s for sure and she knows it. (My daughter is certainly going to have a problem on her hands if we find she didn’t turn them in…that’s not acceptable!) I asked her if she had proof she could provide the teacher that she did turn it in and if she had talked to the teacher. I told her that it is okay to stand up for what you believe in as long as you do it in a respectful manner. I assured her that if she did do her homework and her teacher lost five of them that she should stand up for herself and address it, with respect.
I also reminded her to wait until she wasn’t feeling angry or frustrated to react and take action, that it would be difficult to remain respectful if she were in an angry state. I reminded her that I don’t always show her the best example in that regard, but that as a work in progress, I’m getting there. I needed to remind her not to use what I had modeled for her and am still unlearning. Old habits die hard and I don’t want her to develop the bad habits of my old self. I wrote all about my ability to be a “Hot Tamale” in my book!
She liked my advice and I like that I didn’t solve her problem for her. She’s 14 years old (almost 15) and in just over 3 years can legally make her own decisions as an adult. I won’t be here forever to solve her problems and the greatest gift I can give her as a parent (in my own mind) is to allow her in to my own thinking process, teaching and coaching her how to solve and address issues like this on her own. Show her by example, teach her with instruction and coaching, allowing her to practice until she learns how to handle situations like this on her own, without training wheels. It’s just like when we teach our kids how to ride a bike. We eventually take off the training wheels after letting them get used to peddling and balancing. We need to do the same with other life related challenges that come up so they can practice maneuvering life with training wheels on and mom and dad running along side holding them up to make sure they don’t fall too hard, if they do.
I feel my job as a parent is to prepare them for adulthood with training and practice on the life skills they’ll need to make it. The life skills they need to practice are brilliantly packaged up in the day to day experiences of being a kid. It builds character and it creates well-adjusted adults.
Be blessed! I’m loving you…big time!