The Hidden Lesson

I once had a parent (years ago) tell me that they couldn’t get their child to do homework when the child came home from school.  Apparently Hank (not the real name) wanted to play all afternoon and wouldn’t come in and do even the smallest homework.  The parents were beside themselves.  Was there anything I could do to convince young Hank to do the work I assigned?

I gave the parents permission to blame me.  I said, “Tell Hank that I told you that he couldn’t go out to play for 1 hour on every day I gave him homework.  It would be 2 hours if he didn’t bring the daily planner home signed by me.”  The parents looked at me like I was crazy.  How could I want to be the bad guy?  Very simple.  I wasn’t the bad guy.  I was actually going to be the good guy but it would take a very long time before any of them would realize it.

After a week, I met with the parents and Hank.  The parents were amazed how easy it was for them to “blame” the teacher.  They held fast to what I had told them.  Now, I am not saying that Hank became a master student.  But, Hank did learn that he had responsibilities.  He learned that he was accountable to himself.  After a while, the parents didn’t have to blame anyone.  The three of them had developed the habit of getting homework done and then playing.

I know there are people that may be upset that I allowed the parents to blame me for the “punishment”.  But how do you tell a parent that they don’t know how to parent?  I did it without the parents realizing they were also being taught a lesson.  Why do we assume that just because two people can procreate that they automatically know how to parent?

Were did I learn the lesson I told the parents?  From my mother, every day after school for 13 years of public education and another 4 years of college.  I am blessed to have parents that instilled this in me.  Hank was blessed to have parents that cared enough to ask a professional.  They knew enough to know they didn’t have the skills.

How do we help those parents that don’t have the skills?



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