Dad, do you do your kids’ homework for them? On the other hand, do you even know if they have homework? At the start of a new school year, we should all be thinking about our role in our kids’ education and how we can do our best in this area.
Education is such an important part of our kids’ lives, but as with anything, we need balance.
There are some dads who dive in and do homework with their kids, problem-by-problem and point-by-point. If there’s a really tough one, they might say, “Here, just let me finish this one.” On the other end are dads who might say, “What’s your teacher’s name again?” Some dads leave their kids’ education totally in the hands of others.
It’s interesting: Both extremes may come from self-interest more than truly wanting what’s best for a child.
In one case, Dad is overinvolved. He’s denying his kids a chance to work through their own challenges and learn what it’s like get it right and sometimes get it wrong. That dad may be basing his own self-worth on his child’s success, and it’s probably showing up in sports and other areas as well.
You could say the uninvolved dad is also operating mainly out of self-interest, since he’s unwilling to make the time and effort to enter his child’s world in this vitally important area. Maybe school matters are out of his comfort zone, or maybe he’d simply rather be doing other things.
These are the extremes, and most of us are somewhere toward the middle, maybe leaning toward one side or the other.
But how do we find balance?
A good place to start is to think about your dad: How did he treat your education? And how has that affected the way you handle education with your child? Maybe you can build on what he did, or maybe you want to avoid his approach in this area and give your kids what he didn’t or couldn’t give to you.
A “balanced” approach will be involved but not controlling, allowing your kids freedom without being detached from their educational lives. Whatever your natural tendencies might be in this area, how can you move toward more healthy involvement in your child’s education?
Most dads probably need to engage more.
We may leave school stuff up to mom. Sports or music may be our thing. Or maybe we have a gifted child and take his or her success for granted.
On the other hand, you could be a micro-manager. Your intentions are good, but it might be time to step back, relax a little, and let your child take on more responsibility, even if it means encouraging him through a few failures.
Our research says that many dads aren’t involved enough in education. But it’s really up to you to take a good look at where you are, maybe get some feedback from your kids’ mom or a few wise friends, and make adjustments for the benefit of your children.
What does your involvement in your kids’ education look like? Join the discussion with other dads on our Facebook page.
Action Points & Questions for Reflection and Discussion:
- Who is the main homework helper for your kids? Is that working for everyone involved? Ask your kids’ mom if there’s anything she’d like to change or ways she’d like you to be more engaged.
- Where would you place yourself on a scale of involvement in your kids’ education, from uninvolved to a micro-manager?
- Do you agree that a healthy approach is “involved but not controlling, allowing freedom without being detached”? How would you describe balanced fathering in this area?
- Make it a point to engage your kids nearly every day about their education. Ask about an assignment, sit down to help with homework, read an essay, listen to a practice speech, etc.
- Thinking of “education” as bigger than classroom time, homework, and math, reading and science, how are you investing in your kids’ growth and development?
- Think of 5 life skills that your child would benefit from learning in the next 6 months, and find opportunities to teach them.