What’s more important than getting homework done?
The answer to this is your relationship with your child. The connection you have with your child is more important than their schoolwork, regardless of their age or grade level. Before you start talking about how competitive the world is or calling me crazy, keep reading.
First of all, schoolwork is definitely important. I’d never tell you to stop having your child do homework or to pull them out of school. However, there’s more to your relationship with your children than getting them to do homework and to study for tests. There’s a fine line between helping them and encouraging them with their schoolwork, and making school the focus of your relationship to the detriment of everything else.
I know that there’s a lot of homework to do. And I know you want your child to do a good job, put forth his best effort, and get good grades. There’s nothing wrong with this. But when it becomes the sole focus of conversations, you’ve become another teacher in your child’s life and not their parent. It can cause a lot of unnecessary strain, tension, and arguing. It also sends the message to your child that the only thing that matters to you is doing well in school. As a part of that lesson, children learn that the way to earn your love is to do well in school.
Ask these question of yourself: What do you want the focus of your relationship with your child to be? Connection, love, enjoying each other’s company… or homework? What memories do you want your child to carry with them into adulthood? Fighting with you over writing an essay? Or time spent bonding, laughing, talking, and enjoying each others’ company?
If you’re already in this trap, it’s easy to get out of. If you find that all your interactions revolve around schoolwork, make a point to talk about other topics. Maybe it’s time to take a break from studying and go do something fun together. My favorite way to think about this is ask yourself what memories you would like to have framed in your family photo album and then spend as much time as you can doing those things. I’m guessing fighting over homework is not one of those things!
One other important question to think about is who feels the responsibility for getting the work done? If you find that you are feeling more responsibility for your child’s assignments than they do, maybe it’s time to take a step back. Yes, your child might get a bad grade, but they will learn from the natural consequences of not doing work. This has to happen at some point! Do you really want to be that parent who lives in your child’s dorm room to make sure they do well in college?
It’s okay to step back. They will learn from these consequences. They will learn to be responsible and find success. It feels backwards, but the best thing you can do as a parent is not to make sure your child gets their work done by any means necessary. Instead, the best thing you can do is make your priority building a strong relationship with them, and let them learn responsibility for their own work.