Op-ed, blogs and columns
New study confirms parents need to take hands off approach
By John Rosemond
Copyright 2014, John K. Rosemond
Q: I homeschooled my oldest, an 8-year-old boy, until this year. He started 3rd grade in public school in August. As a homeschooling mom, I was not a micromanager and don’t want to become one now, but the school virtually insists that parents help with homework. I want him to be independent. What are your thoughts on this?
A: I have gone on regular rants about this for 30 years now, so thank you for the opportunity to go on yet another.
Schools began encouraging parent involvement in homework because of a misinterpretation of data concerning Vietnamese children who came to the USA in the 1970s as part of the “boat people” migration. Even though there was no indication that parent involvement outside of very discrete populations was working, schools kept pushing it - a testament to the rigidity of bureaucracies.
When parents get involved with homework, they almost invariably begin to (a) enable and (b) personalize their children’s grades. As a consequence, they are likely to complain about their children’s grades. Ergo, we now have what is termed “grade inflation,” one consequence of which is that children no longer know what their academic weaknesses are. Meanwhile, because of the enabling, their weaknesses become more pronounced and their strengths are at risk of never being fully developed.
I may not be able to rant about this much longer however, because a relatively new study may finally get through to America’s education planners. In the largest-ever study of its kind, researchers at the University of Texas and Duke University analyzed three decades’ worth of data regarding parent participation in children’s academics. What they discovered confirmed what I’ve been saying since the mid-1980s: Parents who help with homework may actually be hurting their children’s chances for success. Regardless of race, income or education level, parents helping with homework did not translate to higher scores on standardized achievement tests, for example, and was found to depress overall achievement in the long run.
Right! Parent homework help usually takes the form of the parent taking responsibility for the child’s achievement level. It’s a very simple equation, really: The more responsible the parent, the less responsible the child. Furthermore, many kids whose parents help with homework develop what psychologists term “learned helplessness syndrome.” The more their parents help, the more incompetent the child begins to feel and the more helpless (and in need of help) the child begins to act.
Struggle is not a bad thing, in other words. In fact, it can be very growth-producing. In and of itself, the fact that a child is struggling does not justify parents jumping in to “help.” For readers who are interested, the entire study can be found in The Broken Compass: Parent Involvement with Children’s Education by Keith Robinson and Angel Harris (Harvard University Press, 2014).
By Bob Hayles
The millennials have a problem, but not what you would expect. It is not that they cannot find jobs after they graduate from college, or the financial burden that their college loans put them under. It is not that they are still living at home at an age when past generations had established their own homes and families.
No, the problem the millennials are having is that they look everywhere for the source of the problem, and the solution, except where they should be looking.
They should be looking in the mirror.
The second paragraph of last week's op-ed in the Progress cuts straight to the core of the economic difficulties that millennial's are having: "I had known several college grads who couldn't get well-paying jobs, or jobs in their field of study upon graduation."
So? Then get a job that isn't a “well-paying job” or one in your field of study and keep looking. Dough McMillon, Walmart's current CEO, started his post-graduation working life stocking shelves in a grocery store, for heaven's sake!
Or, if you can't find a job, create one. For under $200 you can go into the boiled peanut business and I know for a fact it will pay the bills without leaching off mommy and daddy. It kept me fed for five years, so I know.
When you millennials (or anyone else) say you can't find a job, what you mean is you can't find a job that is what you want to do, that has the hours you want to work, in a place you want to work, with the benefits you want, at the pay you want.
Well, you've graduated now, and are in the real world. Lesson one: You don't always get what you want, sometimes you take what you can get.. Get over it.
Frankly, this entitlement attitude is my generation's fault, not the millennials'. We spoiled you like you were our grandchildren instead of our children.
We signed you up for soccer leagues that didn't keep score so the losers' feelings wouldn't be hurt. You got participation trophies regardless of how well...or badly you played.
You told us you just HAD to have a cell phone after all, everyone else did. We knew better from our own youth, but got you one anyway. Now middle schoolers run around with the latest iPhone at $550 a pop.
Then there's the cars we bought you. Look in any high school's parking lot and the student lot has nicer cars than the teacher's lot...and the teacher's WORKED to get theirs.
Finally, we told you you HAD to go to college to get a good job, so you took out loans you now want the government to pay off for you...because you can't find the job you want.
Have you considered that doctors, lawyers, MBA's, and other professionals need plumbers, electricians, and auto mechanics? A plumber charges about $65.00/hr...AFTER the $75.00 service call charge just to show up.
Oh...and you won't have $100K in an education to learn plumbing.
[Bob Hayles is a local web design and political blogger who operates haylestorm.net, juicymaters.com and common-sense-conversation.com.
His favorite saying is: God spreads His grace like a 4 year old spreads peanut butter...He gets it all over the place.]
Handling religious e-mails
By Vicki Roberts
My friends know I am not a religious person but many of them repeatedly forward religious e-mails to me. It annoys me.
You have 2 choices: You can reply to the e-mails and let them know you prefer not to get those types of e-mails or just delete them. If you can, it’s best to just delete them.
My daughter is 15 and is dating a 20-year-old boy. He is very nice and I like him a lot. My friends are giving me a hard time about letting her date him but I feel like if I don’t allow it, they will see each other anyway. Should I make them see each other behind my back?
I don’t know where to start. He may be a nice guy but the age difference at their age is too great. When she is 20 and he is 25, it won’t be an issue but now it certainly is. You need to have a talk with both of them and let them know that as her parent, you need to protect your daughter and you don’t feel that letting them continue the relationship right now is in her best interest. She needs friends her own age (within a year or 2) and he should be looking for someone closer to his own age. If you catch them sneaking around to see each other then your daughter needs to be punished. Let her know in advance what her consequences will be and make them severe.
Vicki can be reached at
“The Beautiful Game”
By Tommy Gartrell
The 20th installment of the FIFA World Cup is catching or even gripping the world’s attention this month. Are you watching? Is it your cup of tea, cup of Joe, or especially sweet cupcake? This event is called the largest sporting event in the world and globally, it certainly is. However, in our little corner of the world, a huge collective yawn seems to be the norm as with soccer in general. Why?
Since 1930, the FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) has held this soccer tournament every four years except during World War II. The whole event actually lasts three years, but the final tournament of 32 teams is what we all know as the World Cup which lasts about a month. It was expanded from 16 teams to 24 teams in 1982 and to the current number of 32 in 1998. A 40 team field is being considered for the future.
Parenting expert offers advice
Copyright 2013, John K. Rosemond
A journalist recently asked, “What is the biggest mistake parents make?” I had to think about that. Which parents? The biggest mistake made by some parents is they pay entirely too much attention to and do entirely too much for their children. These children usually, but not always, end up as spoiled brats. Why not always? Because some children, by mysterious means, manage to do well in spite of less-than-optimal parenting. The notion that one is produced by the manner in which one is raised is belied by the many exceptions, including children who do well despite bad upbringings and children who do badly in spite of good upbringings.
On the other hand, some parents’ biggest mistake is that they pay entirely too little attention to their kids. Those folks are not generally found reading parenting columns, so I will not belabor their misdeeds. It would only serve the purpose of giving my regular readers reason to celebrate themselves, which is an untoward thing to do under any circumstances.
[Need advice with your kids, your family? Each the week the Progress runs columns from national experts like Rosemond and from local Life Coach Vicki Roberts.]