Stepping Back and Lovin’ It
You may have seen the above photo of a sign posted at a boys’ high school that went viral on Facebook. Personally, I agree! Most parents are guilty of something in the above photo. Perhaps we’ve shown up at school to deliver our kids’ forgotten lunch. With our heads hung low and lunchbox in hand, we mumble, “She left it on the counter” or we drive (sometimes wearing pajamas) a homework assignment to school stating, “He left this on the table.” We leave the school office embarrassed of what the staff must think of our disorganized and irresponsible child. But really, what must they think of us?
Sure, the thought of our child starving at school or frantic over a late homework assignment can be too much to bear! Yet, if we repeatedly rescue our children from their own responsibilities, how will they learn to be responsible? If our children do not experience problems, how will they learn to problem-solve?
Believe it or not, as I wrote this blog, my girlfriend actually called from her car as she drove to school to deliver her son’s sports equipment that he left at home. He has a game after school. A game! We discuss that had it been a practice, not a game, she would not deliver it to him. She also decided this is his one “free pass.” And knowing my friend and fellow warrior-mom, she will follow-through. BTW- I am a believer in the one free pass but stick to it.
My daughter, now in 6th grade, understands I will not drive forgotten homework to school. Last year, she learned that first-hand when she left a homework sheet in our laundry room where she awaits the bus. Although I was tormented by the temptation to get in the car, (think Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), I refrained from driving the homework to school. I thought, it’s her problem. Her responsibility.
When she returned from school without reprimand, I casually said, “I noticed you forgot your homework.” Although she was blase about it, her teacher deducted points for submitting the assignment late and it did not happen again…until last week when she noticed online that she had a 50% grade in gym class! Hmmm…must have forgotten to turn in an assignment or something. Yup! That something, still in her folder, was a form that required a parent signature. She brought it signed the next day and she spoke to the gym teacher herself. Again, not my problem.
Let them Fail
Since our natural instincts are to protect and shield our children from discomfort, it’s NOT easy for us to sit back and allow them to, knowingly, fail. However, when we resist jumping in to rescue our children, natural consequences will teach the lesson. With natural consequences, parents do not have to do anything; no nagging, yelling or punishing. Instead, sit back, relax and let the situation unfold naturally.
An assignment that is turned in late will result in a reduction in points. A child who doesn’t prepare for a test will receive a low grade. Forgotten cleats? The child might sit out of a soccer game. The list goes on. With natural consequences, parents can stay out of it and did I mention that natural consequences really work?
Also, when we stop yelling at and badgering our kids about their own responsibilities, we maintain shalom bayit, which means peace in the home. I’ve witnessed this at my house. Once I decreased the constant nagging over my kids’ responsibilities we discovered peace in situations that were previously stressful.
As I wrap up this blog, it is now Sunday and my 9th grader actually slept until 4:00 this afternoon! (No, he’s not ill.) I tried to wake him at 9:15 this morning before I left the house. Yet, he still slept the day away. Around 1:00 in the afternoon when my daughter asked, “Why aren’t you going to wake him?” I explained that it’s not my responsibility. Not my problem.
When he finally awoke at 4:00 p.m. and called to tell me how mad he was that he slept through his grand plan to watch NFL with friends, I thought to myself, natural consequences… and replied, “Maybe you should set an alarm next time.”
Stay tuned for part 2 of the Stepping Back and Lovin’ It series which will discuss how to handle the homework heartache.
Amy Hertzberg has a Master’s in Social Work and is a Certified Professional Life Coach. She specializes in coaching women and parents. To learn more about Amy, AIM Parent Coaching and Aim Life Coaching, please visit www.amyhertzberg.com.