When I attended the middle school back-to-school night last week, I felt like there was something bothering me, but I couldn't put my finger on it.
Was it the 95 degree heat? Was it the 47,000 papers I was supposed to take with me now that our school is paper-free? Was it the mwa-mwah-mw-mwa-mwa-mwahhh quality of the PA system?
No. It was none of those things.
But on the drive home, I figured it out.
It was the double message that we parents are subjected to when it comes to parental involvement in our children's education.
On the one hand, we are told that our children have reached an age where they need to learn independence. We snicker at the idea of "helicopter" parents. We shake our heads in dismay at parents who micromanage every step of their child's education. We enthusiastically agree that we need to let our juniors falter here and there, so they can learn from their mistakes. Learn to organize and manage their time and study without parents questioning them, checking up on them, editing for them, doing their work for them.
And I agree. With all of it.
But on the other hand, we're supposed to log in daily to check teacher websites and Parent Portal, so we can get up-to-the-minute updates on what was assigned and when it is due. We are expected to check agenda books as our darlings walk in the door. We should know the syllabus, understand the grading system for each class, and ensure that homework is completed neatly, accurately, and on time.
One teacher even let us in on the fact that she can check Parent Portal, too. She can see which parents logged in, and how long they stayed on for! So now I can add log-in time on Parent Portal to my keeping-up-with-the-Joneses list.
My idea of homework help can be boiled down to two questions: "Do you have any homework tonight?" "Did you do it?"
Why do I need to look up which pages and numbers were assigned? Isn't that my kid's job?
I don't know if I'm old-fashioned or lazy or if maybe I just have too much faith in my kids, but I don't wanna go there. I don't think we should go there.
Everyone loves to throw around the words accountability, responsibility, and independence, all the while throwing more of those things into the laps of the parents and less in the hands of the kids.
And as parents, we're stuck in the mud. If our child fails struggles, it's because we dropped the ball. We didn't look to see when that assignment was due or we didn't keep the arsenal of poster board topped off, or the number two pencils sharpened to surgical precision.
On the other hand, if we have produced a high school student that can't wipe his own butt fill out a job application or register to vote, we have coddled too much and not allowed him to think and do on his own.
So c'mon teachers. I love ya', but you can't have it both ways. In the interest of continuing my lazy parenting style producing independent thinkers and doers, ask not what I can do for my child, ask what he can do for himself.
Photo Credit: laffy4k.
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