Here’s a confession:
I help my children with their homework.
Cue the collective GASP! from the audience.
Now, I’m going to circle back around to this obvious character flaw, but first I want to talk about the park.
(It’s a metaphor.)
I’m the parent at the park that people write judge-y posts about. I plop down on the most-comfortable-looking bench and spend time on my phone. I am not out with the camera or hand-holding or even pushing the swings. I have been a mother for almost 14 years; I have been to the park approximately one hundred and twelve thousand times. And I’m raising independent kids, after all. I’m not really one to classify myself as a helicopter parent, but I’m sort of over the idea of labels anyway (except Mabel’s Labels — I’m a big fan of those)(Important to note: that’s neither a sponsored link nor an affiliate, I’m honestly just a fan, I have kids who lose everything.)
So yes, I want my kids to occasionally fall down at the park, cry a bit, dust off their dirty pants, and pick themselves back up.
This very thing happened, literally, not metaphorically, when Miss Isabella was learning to do the monkey bars. She’s pretty fiercely independent, being number three in birth order, and decided that she was going to master the monkey bars. And she fell. And she fell. And she fell. And she fell.
And she picked herself right back up and tried again.
And she fell. Again.
And then I said, “Hey Isabella, what if I come over there and sort of hang on to your legs a little bit? Just to show you that you can make it to the next bar without having to worry about your legs?”
“I CAN DO IT MYSELF.”
“Let’s just try it and see. I don’t even have to touch you if you don’t want.”
So I went over there, and stood near her, and only once held on to her legs. And then she made it all the way across. And then when she did it again, she had the confidence to realize that she could do it completely on her own. And she did. And so I went back to sit on the bench, happy to be lazy again.
But here’s the thing. Had I not given her a tiny bit of supplemental help, she would have learned to master the monkey bars. Of course she would have. But I like to think that I helped her build up some confidence, I helped her master it more quickly than she would have on her own.
Is this helicopter parenting? Doubtful. (If you think it is, I actually don’t really care. You know how I feel about labels.)
I helped her help herself.
And isn’t that what parenting is all about?
To help guide these children to become good humans.
So, here’s where we circle back to homework. I told you it would.
I help my kids with their homework.
Actually, I’ll rephrase it.
I help my kids help themselves with their homework.
You will never see me glueing or taping or rewriting.
But you will see me sit down with Josh and his rubric and talk about what is expected of him to get a 4. We discuss what a project that gets a 2 would look like and a project that gets a 4 would look like. We make a plan together, and then he executes.
You will see me help Isabella prepare for her spelling test.
You will see me copy editing one of Emily’s book report.
If I ignored Josh’s homework completely, he’d get 2s on all of his projects. If I assist before he starts, he always gets 4s. I know my son, and I know he needs this. With my help, he learns how to make an outline for a project. If I ignored Isabella’s spelling tests, she’d fail — spelling is not her best. With my help, she learns good study skills, good memorization techniques. If I look over Emily’s book reports, we can have important discussions about possessives and apostrophes.
Yes, they learn a lot at school, from teachers who teach them more than I ever could. I’m clueless about the water cycle and don’t even get me started on new math.
But as a parent, I want my children to swim, not sink. As a parent, I know my children — truly know them. I know how to push them in the right ways, I know what motivates them.
I know how to give them an inch, so they will grab a foot, and then a mile, and then shoot for the moon.
Just like I know how to give Isabella a little leg hold, so she can conquer the monkey bars.