A good friend of mine called me the other day to report that her son had told her, Dad says you should stay out of my business. This sixth grade boy was saying these words to his Mom in the school office in front of the school secretary. The school called because her son was not completing homework, was talking back to teachers, and getting into the occasional fight.
My friend and her husband of seventeen years are in the middle of a difficult divorce. She was calling me to see what I felt was appropriate mom involvement regarding her wayward boy. As a mom and as a teacher, I assured her helping her son keep track of assignments, talking to the teachers about missing work, and appropriate consequences were routine protocol in this situation.
My own son will creatively dismiss homework with untruths, lost or forgotten assignments, and all-out defiance. Therefore, my fourth grader is on an assignment notebook check, his teacher signs off so I know the work should be in there, and he is also able to go to school early if he cannot complete the work at home. The school team and our family are making sure he understands it is his responsibility to do his homework. For my child and my friend’s son, we need to make the parameters of compliance tighter. They have not yet understood the intrinsic value of doing their work.
I understand my friend’s husband’s position. It is his sixth grade boy’s responsibility to get his work done. However, he isn’t taking that responsibility and he will fail. He will lose self-esteem. He will not be shown how to overcome the overwhelming experience of middle school. It is much easier to say, It is your business. Not mine. You suffer the consequences. So much more pleasant to not sign an assignment notebook and check to make sure what is supposed to be done. That dad is only making his own life easier. But where is his responsibility to teach his son how to be responsible.