I’m going to share a fact I hide from the world: I battle insecurity with my job. No, not the job that puts money in the bank; that one’s easy. I’m talking about my important job; the one that if I mess up, the next generation can bundle all their problems, tell them to a therapist, and place the burden on me. (Don’t tell me you’ve never seen a bratty child in the store and wondered what the parents were- or weren’t- thinking.)
Being a parent is a difficult job… for which I’m sure I haven’t been properly trained. My lack of training and my inability to fully trust “winging it” causes me to cast sideways glances, or open stares, at other parents.
Sometimes, what I see is reassuring. Oh, I’d never let my child drink soda every day….I’d never leave them in the car to run into the store…I won’t let my eight-year-old ride his bike on a busy road…my kids will clean their own rooms.
More often, what I see makes me second-guess whether I’m doing this parenting thing right. These are moments when it seems other parents have it together.
We recently went to parent information night for fifth grade. Several parents spoke out about how they are keeping track of Junior’s homework and progress (checking the class website and comparing to each day’s written agenda, monitoring the online grading system, reviewing assignments every night.)
Suddenly, I felt like the irresponsible parent who left her kid in the car while she downed a few beers at the bar…and then had the under-aged child drive her drunk self home. After three weeks, I haven’t checked anything online, but I’m signing the agenda daily. He says he’s finishing his work at school and turns it in…I don’t see it. Based on past experience, I have no reason not to believe him.
Still, that evening with on-top-of-it parents left me second-guessing myself.
I’ve felt that he should be responsible for keeping up with his own work. I don’t have time coddle. After work, we have four hours until bedtime, and I have a first grader that still needs homework assistance. Even in fourth grade, my son brought home papers where I had to sign that we did the assignment together. He did it on his own first, then we discussed and fixed anything that was incorrect.
Of course, at the first sign of slacking (i.e., course grades lower than a “B”), his responsibility will be reduced. He’s been warned that he will have to bring home every assignment for me to check, I’ll make his study and reading schedule…oh, and to make time for all this extra together work there won’t be TV time during the week. The stricken look on his face told me that he wants his responsibility as much as I want him to have it.
One morning, I found my older son’s homework paper on the couch. School started in five minutes. For a second, I wondered if should run it to the school for him. After all, I didn’t want him to fail.
Ultimately, I decided no. I left the paper on the couch. He knows that all homework goes in his backpack when it’s done. I’m sticking by my belief that a failing late paper grade might be the best way for him to succeed.
Have you ever compared your parenting to others, or am I just weird? Wait, don’t answer that…the second part, that is. Aw, forget it – just give it to me straight 🙂