Thursday, September 07, 2006

Too Much Parenting?

I've sometimes wondered if kids today are getting too much parenting, and that is one of the subjects de jour on the alumni listserve for my alma mater, Mississippi University for Women. How much should parents be involved in their kids' lives, particularly older kids? I know I had much more independence as a pre-teen and teen than my kids do. When I was my daughter's age, I walked a mile to school every day, and if I didn't show up one day, the teacher expected a note from my mom the next. My daughter's bus stop is 1/2 mile from the house and about six kids get on there. I drive her over there every morning, and as long as there is a crowd of kids there, I'll leave her--but several of the moms stay, and this is a middle school. It is also a magnet school, and on our way to the bus stop we pass the bus stop for the kids who go to the neighborhood school. There are no moms there--and not a huge number of kids. One of the moms at my daughter's bus stop said that when her older kids attended the neighborhood middle and high school they chose to walk, since they could leave later in the morning.

My son's school has a website on which the teachers post lesson plans (including homework) and grades. Parents are urged to check it weekly. When I was in high school my parent's saw my grades at report card time, unless I chose to show them earlier. Now, all schools I know of have interim reports--sort of like report cards that inform the parents half way through the nine weeks if the student is in danger of failing. Information is a good thing, but can you get too much of it? Where do you draw the line between informing parents and making school into the parents' responsibility rather than the students'? I'll be the first to admit that my son's homework is my responsibility. Now, he is mildly autistic, and with that comes organizational issues and attention issues. I'm not sure how much homework he'd get done if I wasn't right on top of him--and I'm paying too much for this school to let him fail. I'm not really sure what "normal" is. My son gets all that help;  my daughter, who was student of the year at her school last year doesn't, but I'm smart enough to know that neither one of them is normal.

The almuni listserve is discussing "helicopter parents"--those who hover over their children, even when those children are in college. I went off to college to be on my own. I loved my parents dearly but I was ready for independence. The college administrators on the listserve talk about college kids still leashed to their parents by cell phones--who still expect their parents to solve their problems. I want to raise kids who can think on their feet and solve their own problems. I love my kids, but I want to put myself out of a job one day.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:18 AM

    I'm with you. I monitor my son's homework because he. too, is mildly autistic. But I resented the the expectation that the schools seem to have that I should have to do this for all my children, right down to making me sign syllabi for high schoolers. I've told my kids several times that their homework is not my job, it's theirs; I've already done plenty!


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