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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Tendency to over parent

Connie Schultz wrote a nice piece in today’s Plain Dealer about our tendency to over parent.

She talked about her daughter’s college essay and her compulsive need to read it before her daughter sent in her application. Fortunately, her daughter is a mature, graceful young woman who had the good sense to appreciate where her mom was coming from, but firmly informed her that the essay was hers to write.

I can sympathize with Connie's angst and though my kids are a few years away from college essays, I'm sure it will be tough to resist the urge to help. But I'm beginning to appreciate how a more balanced amount of oversight will lead to a more balanced young person. With any luck, it will become a burgeoning trend in the wake of all this Mommy Madness.

Last fall I listened to one of those NPR gems about parents positively amping out over their kids’ college application process. It would have been funny were it not such a sad state. College admissions officials from some of the big colleges were pleading with parents to let their children handle the process and to not push them. Harvard or MIT are not for everyone. Sometimes, Ohio State is exactly the environment in which a kid will excel. And parents have to be OK with that. In other words, we have to learn to accept our children, even when they are just average.

Why is it OK for us not to be perfect, but we expect our kids to excel in everything? Why aren’t they ever allowed to be average when we so clearly are? Connie asks.

Last night I was going through Ryan’s backpack. As a sixth-grader and a good student, I tend not to check daily on whether or not he’s done his homework. But inside his math binder I found a progress report that indicated he’d either turned in incomplete or late homework three times, dragging his grade down to a low B. I was furious. Not at the grade, but at his laziness in completing homework. He caught my wrath last night.

I let him manage his schoolwork on his own, with limited interference. But I won’t stand for laziness and that’s why I was upset with him last night. He knew his father and I meant business and this morning promised that he would not do his math in academic support (known in our day as study hall), but would bring it home.

This morning I’m meeting with Michael’s kindergarten teacher. She called me yesterday to say she had some activities Michael could do to help him with phonics. The Title I testers are coming in two weeks and she was sure with a little practice he would not require Title I reading help.

I’m not going to worry about this. It’s not my first experience with Title I. Patrick was recommended to the program when he was in kindergarten and I was aghast when his teacher politely explained to me that parents choose not to take advantage of this free, federally funded help with reading because of the “stigma” attached with needing the help.

“HUH!” You mean to tell me there are parents out there who are so ignorant that they would turn down help even though their child would benefit all to save face. Pull-eeze! Patrick is now in his fourth and final year of Title I and I am grateful to have had the help of some wonderful tutors who have not only helped him with sounds, but also boosted his confidence.

So I’m off to meet Mrs. Eaton this morning and I will be just as happy with my little Mikey if he requires Title I reading help next year as if he doesn’t. I’ve known parents who pay the GDP of small countries in both private school tuition and private tutoring help. I can’t see the sense in that. Besides, I’ve been through teaching two other little boys to read. Teaching a child to read can, at times, be an arduous process so I’ll take any free help I can get.

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