I don’t claim to be an expert, but the sheer volume of children in my family has given me a lot of very diverse experiences. We haven’t gotten it down perfectly, to be sure, but here are some lessons learned along the way. This post is about 5 things you should not do as a parent.
1. Overschedule your children. We all know kids who are in seventeen activities and both they and their frazzled, broke parents are always on the go. Children do benefit from a wide range of activities to explore and discover their true interests, but they also need time to decompress, relax, process what they’re learning and, heaven forbid, entertain themselves. We have always limited the kids to two out of school activities – one athletic at the very most. With multiple kids, this still gets hectic. Model collaboration and include your kids in the logistical planning.
2. Live Vicariously through your children. If you have always wanted to dance or play piano, take lessons. Don’t put your child in them. If your child is interested in a sport that you also love, remember to help, not push. I was the soccer coach whose kid was pulling grass and doing cartwheels. If I hadn’t coached, the 12 kids on the team would not have been able to play. I focused on fun and teamwork and everyone had a great year. I didn’t force the Khan to play and he hasn’t played since. It’s not his thing and that’s okay.
3. Don’t model appropriate relationships with authority figures. Let the teacher teach. Let the coach coach. DH was a soccer coach for Squidward when Squid was in third grade. Hubby had three simple rules: Work hard, have fun and dress for practice like you dress for games – in other words wear your shin guards. A boy showed up for practice without them and was benched. He threatened to leave and was told that, if he did, he’d be off the team. His mother confronted the coach, my husband, and said the same “We’ll just leave”. She was told that, if that was her choice, she needn’t return. What lesson did that teach the boy? The mother insinuated that the child was in control and did not need to respect the adult.
How many times has your child explained a low grade with “The teacher just hates me”. Are you sure? When you meet with teachers, are you prepared for conflict or collaborative discussion? The last time I heard that phrase, I responded with “Of course she does. You’re wasting her time every single day. She works hard to try to teach you and you ignore her and don’t do your assignments. She’d rather fill your spot in class with someone interested in being there.”
4. Have low expectations. I do not pay for lunches online. My children take a check to school. It is their responsibility to pay that bill. I do not make my childrens’ beds. I expect them to be made every day and bedrooms to be clean. At this moment, I am looking at a filthy kitchen that my son will be cleaning when he gets home. You make a mess, you clean it. You want a drivers’ license, you follow the rules. Demonstrate that you can manage your time and resources and carry a B average. Not. Negotiable. (Causing strain in my home to be certain, but not. negotiable.)
5. Don’t do your homework. Take the kid’s word for it. I learned a valuable lesson in this yesterday. My 8th grader spent the day in the in-school suspension room yesterday after he punched another kid in the face. Turns out this other boy had been insulting my son’s ethnicity for almost a year. “You eat cats and dogs.” “You’re a loser.” Every day things were “fine” at school while at the same time my son had become more determined to take Tae Kwon Do lessons and be homeschooled. My son is being bullied because he is Asian. I didn’t see it. Now I must make it stop.
We are stationed at a small base next to a small town with a small school full of small-minded people. I am open to suggestions. Where do I begin?
I did e-mail this note to the principal (names changed to protect my son’s identity)
Thank you again for letting me know about the incident with The Emperor this morning. As I have been thinking about it, there are some signs that the problem is more serious and possibly widespread. The Emperor has been asking repeatedly to take Tae Kwon Do classes and to be home schooled. Those strike me as signs that him being bullied is a much larger problem than we’re aware of.
Are there elements of the curriculum within the district that address inclusion and aim to stop racism, sexism and all other kinds of -isms that are threaded through our society, more so in small-town Sparta than other places I fear, but are absolutely unacceptable? How does the district teach tolerance?
What is the long-term plan for the boy that The Emperor has said is bullying him? How many other victims are in the school? Are all the other nonwhite kids at risk too?
(I apologize but being angry leads to run-on sentences)
How long do I wait for a response? What would your next steps be?