Food For Thought

With great apologies and thanks to Tampa Mom (and her friends), these pearls of wisdom got me thinking today:

Why do we enable our children to mediocrity and/or coddle them into becoming emotional cripples? Our children are so smart and amazing, but so many times we’re caught up in our own emotions and make their challenges all about us instead of just handing them back and saying, “How are you going to handle this?”

We’d have a lot more motivated, capable young adults in this world if we didn’t solve our kids’ problems for them and instead gave them guidance to help them solve their own. That’s what I’m working on and it’s just awesome seeing exactly how capable and smart my kids are.

If you guide your children and allow them the freedom to make the choices, they learn from the good and the bad and are far more capable, decisive, sympathetic, and empathetic. Keeping them safe is one thing, keeping them smothered is something else entirely!

I completely agree with allowing children to fail and to learn to make decisions for themselves … and suffer the consequences. A big bone of contention between me and WineGuy currently is how far do you let a child fall and/or when do you step in and start running things again. What do you do if you see your child is not handling his responsibilities as you’ve tried to give them back to him?

I’ll start with the positive side of my response. Wild Thing is handling his responsibilities well: he’s doing his homework and turning it in; he’s making good grades; he’s keeping up with religious school and music lessons; he’s keeping his room clean. All are signs of an emotionally well-adjusted child. However, WT cannot get himself downstairs on time in the morning and is frequently scrambling to eat breakfast and get his things together. WT continually refutes bedtime and is either chatting or playing with Moose until all hours. Moose is handling his responsibilities better: he does his homework and is remorseful when he can’t complete it for time constraints; he is making good grades; he’s doing much better keeping his room clean; and, he is being more helpful around the house. Moose occasionally is ready on time for school and gets to have breakfast. Nevertheless, I have to stand over Moose to get him to clean his room; he plays in his room before school and at night when he should be going to bed.

YodaWizard, as always, is the problem. His snarky attitude, disrespect, and dishonesty are so egregious at times that they drive a wedge between me and WG. (Maybe that’s what he wants. Hmm.) Wizard’s first quarter grades just came out: A-B-B-C-C-D. Those would be Art, Spanish, History, Science, Language Arts, and Algebra I, respectively. They. Suck. This from a kid who we all know is very smart. We checked the grades online before the report card was issued and found that Wizard continues not to turn in all assignments or take advantage of test-retakes when available. Why? Who the hell knows? Wizard claims he turns everything in, didn’t get full credit on some math assignments because he didn’t show his work. I believe Wizard has to fall flat on his face,  make the lousy grades and live with them, even if it means they affect his college choices. WG strongly disagrees. WG’s opinion is that Wizard has already fallen flat on his face. WG contends that Wizard, by having to leave Snooty School last year (because of homework, attitude, and behavioral issues), has already proven himself incapable of managing his own life. WG insists that “we” must now step in and micromanage the kid’s life. “We” = me. I am supposed to review Wizard’s assignments with him daily on the computer after school. I am supposed to review Wizard’s grades with him online. I am supposed to escort the boys upstairs for a room-check every afternoon.

Frankly, Scarlet, I don’t want to. WT and Moose, ages 10 and 7, manage to write down all their assignments without my monitoring them. WT and Moose bring their work home to show me their progress. I still have to check their rooms daily. I hate doing it because I would rather be chatting with my boys about their days and preparing dinner. But, no. WG insists that clean rooms and schoolwork trump homemade dinner with the family. I. Don’t. Like. It.

Am I wrong? Tell me what you think, even if it’s ugly.

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5 thoughts on “Food For Thought

  1. I’m with you. And I think the room check routine is assinine.

    Your boys will remember those conversations with you after school while you cook 30 years from now. They WILL NOT remember if their room was clean or not – nor will it matter one smattering.

    If they don’t have clean clothes because they didn’t put them in the hamper to bring down at laundry time – tough. If they cannot find something because their room is a mess – tough.

    Keeping up with the schooling? Well, I think I would be much more likely to give Wizard some organizational guidance on a daily basis than to worry about clean rooms. Again – whats the long run benefit here? If you spend say, a month closely monitoring Wizard & he learns something that benefits him for his education? Golden!

  2. Seriously? A DAILY room check? Rooms that clean would be fairly low on my list of priorities in the very grand scheme of things. So much more could be gained with that family dinner time, I think. Years from now what will have more impact? I really have to agree with you on this one.

  3. Every child is different. You may not have to bird dog WT or Moose to get the behavior you expect, but that doesn’t mean that Wizard is capable of doing this on his own. I’ve been reading your blog for a long time, but can’t always keep things straight…is Wizard diagnosed with anything? ADD, ODD? It just seems obvious that he needs handling differently than your other two. My daughter was on her own from the moment she started school. My son needed constant supervision…he wouldn’t have graduated from high school if it hadn’t been for my constant vigilence. The guidance office, his teachers and I were in constant contact. Despite his 1300 SATs and his 27 ACTs, he he barely scraped through. It took him 8 years of post high school growing up and failing and picking himself up, but he is now happy, healthy, employed and a truly nice person. All I am saying is that Wizard may need you on his back. Room check, not my thing. School intervention, definitely was necessary in our case. Just my thoughts…

  4. I suspect the clean room thing may be symbolic of a deeper issue between you &
    WG regarding control of the household and general power/balance of control within your relationship. I remember one of the moms commented before that you don’t go to WG’s office and tell him how to run things and what he should be doing throughout the day, but he seems to have difficulty turning the household management over to you and you seem to have difficulty determining how much you need to “listen to” (obey) him when he’s so intrusive and demanding. I think if you can ever sort out that basic issue, fights over things like daily room checks will fall by the wayside.
    For the school issue though, I lean toward WG’s perspective. Yes, our job is to teach our children and to turn things over to them, but Wizard is not an adult or even close to it….in fact, he’s barely a teen. At this age my philosophy is much different than when they’re 17 or 18. And I know I’ve said before, but I’ll reiterate….if there is ONE most frequent issue that child psychologists deal with day in and day out, its exactly what you’re dealing with from Wizard. Its the “common cold” of mental health and problematic educational issues—smart boys who refuse to do their homework and underperform in school. Add the ADD on top of it and you’re in it for the long haul.

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