One of the most important things kids learn in school is how to take responsibility for themselves. Whether it’s completing assignments on time or setting the alarm early enough to catch the bus, school offers kids a unique opportunity to learn how to sink or swim in the real world. But apparently not every parent thinks that’s a lesson worth learning. An Arkansas high school recently posted a sign urging parents to let their kids’ face the consequences of their own mistakes, and it’s sparked a huge debate about how much responsibility is too much for teens.
In an effort to curb the constant flood of parents bringing in forgotten lunches and missing assignments, Catholic High School for Boys in Little Rock recently posted a sign on its official Facebook page that reads, “If you are dropping off your son’s forgotten lunch, books, homework, equipment, etc., please turn around and exit the building. Your son will learn to problem-solve in your absence.”
The sign’s message is pretty straightforward: Don’t try to clean up your teenager’s messes. It’s been shared more than 110,000 times since it was posted, but not everyone agrees with the sign’s all-or-nothing stance. Many parents have commented to express concerns that the policy is too harsh and school officials should give kids a break. One mom even wrote, “If my child had forgotten their lunch, no sign, teacher or principle (sic) would stop me from preventing my child from being hungry all day.”
Amidst the backlash, the school’s principal clarified to local news outlets that kids wouldn’t be forced to go hungry but said he considers it the school’s responsibility to teach its students how to problem-solve. He’s got a point, and it’s honestly surprising that so many parents are upset about not being able to coddle their teens. After all, Catholic High School serves students in grades nine to 12. If a first-grader forgets their homework or their snack, that’s one thing. But a 16-year-old? They should know better.
By the time a kid reaches high school, they should know to carry a few extra bucks for lunch or, at the very least, be able to ask a friend to spot them a few dollars in the event of an emergency. They should also be able to complete their work on time and verify that all their books are in their backpack before they head off to school in the morning. This stuff isn’t rocket science, and there’s no reason a parent should have to rush out of the office to drop off a math worksheet for their high school senior.
No one wants their child to be stressed, worried or to go without, but it’s our job as parents to teach our kids how to survive without us. Once they get a job or head off to college, they won’t have Mommy and Daddy there to hold their hands through every bad day. They need to know how to solve their own problems and how to bounce back from their mistakes.
Sometimes hard lessons can only be learned through experience. It might feel good to step in and protect kids from every difficult or unpleasant situation, but at the end of the day, they’re not learning anything from being coddled. As parents, we owe it to our teens to give them the confidence and ability to stand on their own two feet, even when it takes a bad day or a detention to help the lesson sink in.
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