Pressure’s on

The pressure to help, that is. To revert to my old ways of interfering with growth and learning. It’s everywhere. Last week it was an email from school saying that Fenner didn’t turn in her homework on time. Then a form stating when Ellen’s book report is due with my signature required at the bottom (there have been quite a few of these forms and sometimes I’m told that anyone without a signature has to stay in from recess). And then a phone call with Charlotte’s reading teacher who informed me that, “It’s ok to help her remember to bring the book back to school.”

Most teachers, I think, want to foster independence as much as I do. But fostering true long-term independence, and allowing for natural consequences, can be messy and inconvenient and can feel like an impediment to short-term progress. Some teachers are most likely responding to the increase in micro-managing parents. They assume that parents want to know, to be in the loop, to be involved at every step — because many of them do. But not me. Not anymore. So I’ll gently let them know: No thank you. Keep me out of it, please. I only need to know if it gets serious. Otherwise, you can let her handle it. Yes, she can handle it.

What do teachers think when I say this? Are they happy? Relieved? Puzzled? Annoyed? A lot of times it’s hard to tell, especially in this age of email. For example, I sent a note to Fenner’s teacher saying thank you, but please don’t feel obligated to tell me every time Fenner forgets her homework. I got no response. So I’ll assume that no news is good news and keep on keepin’ on.

The pressure comes from within as well. Ellen was just in tears over trying to get a frozen bagel apart without breaking it. I asked her some questions about what might work and stated that I was sure she could figure it out, but I refrained from doing it for her. Finally she blurted, “Mom, you’re never any help!!!” and stomped away.

I could hear the voice of society whispering in my ear, “How could you?! A good mother helps her child. Especially when a sharp knife is involved!” I ignored the voice and instead listened to the slamming of cupboards and drawers in the kitchen. I noticed how the slamming gradually subsided and was replaced by sounds of happy eating.

Yes, they can.

Explore posts in the same categories: Weeks following: Miscellaneous

2 Comments on “Pressure’s on”

  1. Gretchen Curtis Says:

    Hi there Flockmother!! I get what you are saying – we live in the Upper Valley too, and the pressure to be completely involved in everything our kids are doing is HUGE. I am doing the same thing – not bringing in late homework, overdue books, etc… I trust that Gabrielle and Liam are fully capable people, and am helping them to be the best that they can be (without doing everything for them). I’m in the thick of it now – rooms are a mess, clothes everywhere, lunches are questionable (they are making their own – yahoo!), sports equipment being forgotten. But they are seeing that they are responsible, and are “getting it.” Isn’t it great to be in relationship with them, rather than nagging and reminding and picking up after?

    • flockmother Says:

      So much better. I think about what I used to say to them–urging, coaxing, constant reminding–and how crabby I was about it all! I must admit I’m still figuring out how to keep training from slipping back into nagging and criticizing, but I think it’s really about my attitude. If my attitude is positive then my tone is positive and that makes the difference. I just hate to think where we’d be if we hadn’t made these changes!

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