Beth Harpaz, a writer in my neighborhood, has a very funny new book, 13 is the New 18: And other things my children taught me while I was having a nervous breakdown being their mother. Not surprisingly, she talks about her trials and tribulations with homework. Happily, she doesn’t cave in to the school’s request that she log into the school’s web site every night, download her son’s homework, and made sure he does it.
I had thought that they do not like so-called “helicopter mommies” who hover over their darling’s every misstep and try to fix it. I had naively been led to believe that it was better, at this age, to let your kid figure out how to solve his own problems, or allow him to suffer the consequences, rather than intervene and solve his problems for him.”
Besides, she writes,
I already went to ninth grade. And when I was in ninth grade, I did all my homework. And my mother didn’t even have to check it for me. I really just don’t feel like it’s fair to make anyone on this earth responsible for ninth grade more than once in a lifetime.
Like every parent, Harpaz genuinely want her son to do well in school; she just doesn’t want him “doing the homework solely to avoid getting hassled by me.” Eventually she asks other parents for advice, and finally takes solace in a story from a mother of a brilliant boy who couldn’t cope with school, ended up getting a GED, and later on lands a job with a high-tech firm.
That mother had sought help from a therapist who told her
t was not the parents’ job to serve as rules enforcer for the school. Yes, you can help with homework if they ask; you can create a schedule that sets aside a reasonable amount of time each day to do homework, but you are not the homework policeman … If they don’t do their schoolwork, they have to deal with the consequences, even if the consequences mean failure.
Harpaz says the other mother also told her that what is the parents’ job is
to make sure that kids grow up to be decent, independent, fully functioning human beings. So simple, and yet so overwhelming. It’s actually easier to be the homework policeman than to play Pygmalion and shape a soulless lump of clay into a good person.
(Copyright Beth Harpaz. From 13 is the New 18: And other things my children taught me while I was having a nervous breakdown being their mother. Her blog is 13isthenew18.com)