I’m a mum to two daughters, now aged 15 and 22, so I’ve had my fair share of experience when it comes to homework.
I also have the benefit of being able to see, at 22, exactly what impact my approach to parenting has had. (Quite a scary thing at times.)
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One thing I have been pleased to see is that my decision not to force my children to do their homework definitely hasn’t left them with a shoddy work ethic. If anything, the opposite is true, which is one of the reasons I took this approach in the first place.
It wasn’t just laziness, honestly. Although that probably came into it a teeny bit.
Just to be clear, I’m not saying that I actively discourage homework – I’m not trying to raise anarchists here.
Every evening I ask about homework, and make positive suggestions about why it might be a good idea to do it as well as it can be done. Ultimately though, I feel that it has to come from them – especially by the time they are in their mid to late teens.
Chiefly, it’s about ownership and responsibility.
What I don’t want to do is sit down every night and force them to do something against their will.
Not only will they feel less engaged as a result, but then they never get to experience the consequences of not doing it. I feel like they need to see this, to make them appreciate why it’s important.
Not doing homework for example might, in the short-term, lead to detention or a bit of public humiliation in class, but it will also have a long-term impact too.
If you get behind with homework, it can be difficult to keep up in class, and that’s a very stressful position to be in.
It also comes back to that much debated topic – the mental load.
By constantly reminding and nagging your children to do homework, you’re taking on more than your fair share of the mental load.
They need to learn that no one is going to remember things for them – if they want to be successful as an adult then they need to step up and take on that responsibility themselves.
I want them to understand that pretty much everything in life is a choice, but that every choice they make comes with consequences.
They are free to take whichever path they choose, but they must be prepared to deal with what happens as a result.
That’s what parenting is all about isn’t it?
We can’t force our children to do things we want them to do as they get older, we can only hope that we’ve equipped them with the skills and the confidence to make good choices.
Jo Middleton is the creator of the award-winning parenting and lifestyle blogSlummy Single Mummy.
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