Thursday July 1, 2010

by David M. Gonzalez

Our oldest daughter has a reading log that we’re supposed to sign every night. In the world of a rules-oriented, law-and-order loving elementary school student, there is nothing more devastating than not completing your homework.

But every now and then we get home late, dinner isn’t ready until 7:00 p.m., and it’s a scramble to get everybody fed and in bed and the “optional” homework doesn’t get finished.

Which means no signature in the Star book.
Which means the teacher doesn’t give her a smiley face sticker and praise.
Which means a very upset girl.

A few times we have done an anticipatory Star book signing when she was going to finish up her reading in the car on the way to school. We’ve pulled back from that rule last week when I got the impression that we were letting the chaos of our lives influence the accountability of our daughter’s. Homework is her responsibility – not ours. She is typically very good about prioritizing when she does her homework (immediately after school) and likes to have it finished before dinner.

But when she makes choices to play with her sister, or go to the park, or have a play date and homework is not finished – what happens when homework is due the next day? Do we let her stay up late? Do we not allow her to play? Or is there a value in not signing the Star book (at the risk of maybe not getting as good of grades) in hopes of teaching personal accountability and prioritizing?

Where is the line between helping children understand priorities and modeling good behavior and enabling so that the child never worries because she know that you will?

As further proof that Corinne is too busy herding our several children and practicing law, the following scene played out this morning:

C: Have you finished your reading?
O: I have 2 more pages.
C: I’ll sign your Star Book. Finish reading in the car with Dad.

[Scene Change: David's Truck, driving to school]

O: “Wait! Turn around! I left my book in Mommy’s car!”
D: “I can’t turnaround – we’re almost to school!”
O: “But Mommy already signed my Star Book! You have to call her!”
D: “I can call her, but what do you want me to do?”

(never expecting this answer)

O: “You have to cross out Mommy’s signature because I still have four pages left to read.”


Parents: 0
Kid: 1

In the future, do not expect me to write any blogs about how to talk to your kids about sex. I’ll just have our kids guest write because they do a better of job of parenting themselves than we do.

(image via flickr)

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