Monday, November 10, 2014

Learning Responsibility

My friends post the most interesting things on Facebook. There are a few topics that almost guarantee that I will click and read. Parenting and education are at the top of my list. This morning I read an op-ed piece from the Washington Post. Homework is my kids job.

I didn't find anything earth shattering.  I agreed with what the author had to say about teaching kids responsibility. What I found amazing was some of the comments. Disregarding the ones that were just downright rude, there was a significant number of people that thought this was awful parenting. I'm not sure if they misunderstood what she was saying or if the really and truly believed it was their duty to do homework for their kids. Probably a mix of both.

Growing up I understood that homework was mine, among other things. Actually I would have been appalled if my mother had tried to take over my work. She certainly was there if I truly needed help or if I had a question. Unless I sought out her assistance the most oversight I got from her was, "Do you have homework tonight?"

That was it. There might have been some reminders about managing my time, but otherwise I was on my own. If I failed to complete my work, I got to live with the consequences. If I brought home grades that were not reflective of my ability, there were negative results at home. I think I brought home some drastically bad marks in fourth grade. I was grounded. No TV. No friends. Nothing fun until report cards came out again and I showed improvement. It only took once.

Just as my parents were not accountable for my work, I am not the boss of my children's work. As a matter of fact there are several things my kids are expected to accomplish on their own. Chores. Even a two year old can help unload the dishwasher and fold a washcloth. Find your own shoes. Twelve and up can do their own laundry. Although my 8 and 10 year olds have decided they can handle that on their own. Get yourself dressed and, no, a blanket does not count as clothing. High school kids have to pay for their own field trips. Ask Gramma yourself if you want a popcicle. 

There might be a few more things to add to this list, but I think you get the gist. 

How grateful I am for family that taught me to fend for myself. Actually, I think the real lesson was on choosing consequences and learning to live with the results of your decisions.

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