When my oldest daughter started bringing homework home (i think it was the third grade) our school nights became a battleground. My daughter would bring out every arsenal within her power…and it was exhausting. I dreaded homework. My daughter didn’t understand homework was non-non-damn-no-negationable. She wanted me to do it. I didn’t want to. She didn’t want to…i had to end it.
I had to tell her the truth…
I confessed to her that she works harder then grown ups do.
“I do?!” she said, absolutely shocked.
“Oh, yes, children work harder than most of their parents.” i said. she asked, “how?!” “Grown ups have already gone through school & have learned what they loved to do the most. then they chose a job that allows them (hopefully) to do what they like. YOU, have to do things you do not like, or things that you are not good at…you have to learn to sit still, learn to listen, do your math, writing, reading, science, social studies, gym, art, music, Spanish AND you have to figure out how to stand in line, find someone to sit with, make friends, deal with teachers & other kids you do not get along with…you have to learn a NEW DIFFERENT SOMETHING every single day, you have to remember a thousand things” I said.
“A grown up did what you do, they finished school, learning what she/he was best at. Imagine someone loving science in school, they could study hard to become a doctor, or a scientist. This grown up does science things all day long & they are happy.” (Hopefully)
“But it’s too hard now!” she whined.
“Absolutely, it is. Do you remember learning your ABC’S, how hard that was?”
“But that is sooooo easy, what i do now is harder!” She whined.
“Yup, but you said it was too hard to learn how to read & how to write & add 1+1=, but you did learn those things. School is like a set of stairs, every step becomes harder, but you become stronger & smarter with every step. School is your job, the hardest job in the whole wide world…this is what we should do from now on. You come home & crash, eat a snack (no electronics), after you eat, then you do your homework. Then you can zone out in front of the tv. AND when we get your report card, your teacher is telling us how hard you are working. A grown up gets paid for their work. If you chose to work hard at your job, this is how you will be paid…”
“A=$10.00, B=$5.00, ONE C=$2.00. More than one C means you will be paid less for all your grades. A=$5.00, B=$2.50, C=$0. And if you receive a D, you will not be paid for your job. If a grown up doesn’t do a good job, they might get fired!”
“People can get fired for not doing good at their job?” she asked, shocked.
“Yup, so from now on, it is up to YOU to see who hard you want to work. No more battles for homework You bring me questions, but no more whining…if it becomes a battle, then you put your homework, in your backpack, unfinished & explain to your teacher why you didn’t do it” I said.
“Oh, that would be bad” she said.
“yes, but it is your choice, do you want to earn some money?” I asked.
“YES!!!! I’m gonna be rich!!!” she yelled
And she was.
After this, there were no more fights. BECAUSE I VALIDATED HER FEELINGS about how hard school is. I EMPOWERED HER TO WORK HARD for her job. And from that day to this, she has been a mostly A student. Now she is a jr in college & earns straight A’s.
I have two younger children, and when they started school, they received the same job offer. While they earned “S” for the first three years, they earned a dollar an S. Which is a lot of ones for a five year old. They would watch their big sister receive $50…and they drooled.
PS a fantastic teaching tool i discovered, was to pay the younger kids in cash & then take them to the dollar store. They learned restraint, they had to think if something was better to buy now, or to wait for their next pay check. And they learned about taxes.
Having mom & dad buy everything for their kids want is nice, but it is FAR BETTER that they earn some of their money. And easier on parents, because if you buy them everything, They do not value it as they would have done had they bought it with their own money. Another thing you avoid having to deal with is when you do not want to buy them something, you might have a battle on your hands. If you give in, you have taught them whining, sulking, tantrums works…which is normal for a 2 year old, but not a 10+ year old.
I was told when my kids were small, that i only had them for 18 years, in those years i had to teach them how to become a grown up. It changed how i felt about parenting completely. Sending them off to college without these life lessons, is akin to clipping their wings & throwing them into the wind. I teach my kids how to cook, do laundry, fold clothes, earn extra money for more difficult jobs. My middle daughter is now 15 & she earns $5 for every meal she cooks. My son has just started doing this as well, he is 13. The difference of earning & being handed money makes a big difference in your child’s life. You can make your child more confident & self sufficient by telling them the truth. I wish everyone luck in giving their child roots and wings.
Make your child strong because life is damn hard.