I admit it.
I’m not overly engaged in my children’s education.
To be honest, I’m not very engaged at all.
If you want to say that makes me a horrible parent, feel free. If you want to silently judge me, feel free to do that too.
But here’s the deal: no one but my husband and I are the parents of my children. No one but my husband and I have worried about our children since before they were born, witnessed all of their imperfections and would give our lives for theirs in a heartbeat.
In other words, I’ve reached that point in my life when I’ve realized that being an imperfect parent in the eyes of other adults is much healthier than attempting to be the wrong parent in the eyes of my kids.
And the last thing my children need is my interference in their education. They know my expectations and they know their capabilities, and they’ve done fine in school without me.
Since the time they were in first grade, my children have rarely asked for help with their homework, and I rarely know when they have a test. We’ve had an occasional bump in the road, but compared to stories I’ve heard from other parents, my children are doing just fine in school.
I like to think they are extremely conscientious kids who have a great deal of initiative, but the truth is they learned a long time ago that doing their school work independently was less torturous than dealing with a mom who would obsess over every paper they turned in and every grade they received.
My husband, who never worried much bout grades during his own education and, in most people’s eyes, has been much more successful professionally than I have been, is completely on board with our family’s “don’t ask; don’t tell” policy.
The only time I’m supposed to ask about school performance is when I get an interim or quarterly report card, and the only time my children are expected to tell me about their grades is when the either get straight A’s or are giving me an explanation for anything less.
I used to think my rather laissez faire attitude about their education was great preparation for college, when they really will be completely responsible for ensuring they study and meet deadlines
Then, last month, I had a rude awakening.
My daughter was complaining that she didn’t like her West Virginia studies class. Initially, I thought she was complaining about the subject matter. But the more I listened to her, the more I realized that she simply didn’t like having to actually study to get the grade she wanted.
School has always come easy to her, and the real reason I’ve never really provided much help has little to do with her or her brother’s motivation and more to do with their abilities.
Not to brag, but I have smart kids.
Let me rephrase that.
My kids are a great deal smarter than I am or every was.
They don’t ask for my help with their class work because I can’t really provide any insight or input that exceeds their capabilities or academic capacity.
On the rare occasion when they’ve actually asked for my input, I have more questions than answers, which they find extremely annoying.
And, on the rare occasion when I feel that I have to provide input in order to earn my “good parent” badge, I been completely ineffective.
But what I can do is regularly challenge them to think for themselves, question the status quo and keep an open mind.
As long as they both do that, I’ll remain comfortable with my less than stellar performance as a parent in the eyes of others.
And as long as long as my children don’t tell me they have a problem with that, then I’m certainly not going to ask.