I’ve heard too many times from divorced parents that they don’t want to take their children to an activity, work on homework or a school project or do some other task “on their parenting time.”
As if the time is the parent’s. It’s not. It’s your child’s life that you get to be part of, and help facilitate. Your child is not with you for your enjoyment or satisfaction.
Divorced parents really need to understand this.
And when it comes to homework, especially when children are young, it is always the parent’s responsibility to make sure they get it done in a timely fashion. This teaches your child good study habits, a strong work ethic and it sets them up for confidence when they walk into the classroom, knowing their work is complete.
I’m not going to say I think homework is the most important thing in the world nor am I going to say it’s always fairly assigned. I once worked in a school that was progressive enough to cut down on the amount of homework given. And if you want to advocate against homework altogether with your school, check out Alfie Kohn’s book, The Homework Myth.
But in the meantime, if you’ve got a kid who has work to do, it is an extremely important part of your parental obligation to make sure that it gets done.
Part of being a parent is taking care of unpleasant, boring or tedious tasks. You must take your child to doctor appointments. You must make sure they complete homework before it’s due. You must cart them to soccer practice, dance class, tae kwon do, religious classes, whatever is part of their lives.
Because your parenting time is not actually yours; it’s theirs. It irritates me so much when people say, “I don’t want to do this on my parenting time.”
I want to respond with, “Too bad. This is your child’s life, and you signed up to be a parent.”
The simple truth is that the role of a parent is very one-sided and it should be: it is the adult’s responsibility to raise, protect, nurture and love that child so that they develop into a functional, productive adult. Plain and simple. It’s not about us. It’s always about them.
And if we derive some pleasure from being parents, wonderful! But that should never be the goal.
Of course, all parents want their children to succeed. We also want them to have confidence and high self-esteem. That can’t happen if they’re embarrassed or behind in learning because we didn’t make sure homework was done.
I’m seeing a lot of homework neglect lately. I’m not sure if it’s in response to the pandemic and virtual learning, or if it’s because parents fight over who does what with the kids. Whatever the reason, each parent should ask the child what homework they have the minute they come home and make time to sit down with them at the kitchen table to work on it.
Yes, you have to ask them. You can’t wait for them to announce it or bring the folders and worksheets to you.
And if one parent is neglectful of their homework, they often don’t want to tell the other parent because they feel pulled between them, and try to protect one parent against the other. That compromises the child.
When you don’t take the charge on homework, you’re also sending a message that you’re not interested in what is going on in your child’s life. Even if your child doesn’t like doing homework, they do like that their parent cares about their progress and success.
Children need to hear over and over again that they are important enough or parents to make time to focus on them. That parents care enough to pay attention to the details of their lives.
I believe both parents should be involved not only in homework, but in all school-related activities: parent-teacher conferences, curriculum nights, being in touch with teachers, and yes, homework.
When married, parents might divide and conquer the tasks, but once divorced, both parents need to get up to speed and take an interest. You don’t need to overdo it. Just show up and be involved.
Ultimately, every child should be able to walk into a classroom every day away from their parents and feel confident. And part of that depends on their parents being involved and caring about what they’re doing, and yes, making sure assignments are done.