• Wed, Sep 21 2011

Don’t Hate Me Because I Do My Daughter’s Homework For Her

I definitely cross the line between helping my daughter do her homework and actually doing it for her. It is a fine line. Please admit you cross this line, too (at least sometimes).

When my daughter shows me her homework, I never intend to do it for her. I simply plan to sit and help. But it doesn’t always work that way. She starts out fine, excited to do homework, but then within 10 minutes, her eyes are glazing over and she just gets tired. Is tiredness an excuse for not doing homework? Well, yes, actually. I believe so.

She arrives at school just after 8 a.m., plays in the playground running around until 8:30 a.m., then has a full day of class, including on some days gym and swimming, until 3:30 p.m. Then, she’ll have after-school activities, like dance or play dates, and then dinner at 6 p.m. Then it’s bath time. Her schedule exhausts me, and I’m not the one actually doing the physical running around and using my brain all day.

She’s so tired sometimes that she doesn’t read the instructions when we do her homework and I have to remind her, not so gently, to “READ THE INSTRUCTIONS FIRST!” I don’t like myself at these moments. I hate the impatient tone in my voice. My daughter hates it, too. (I really only get “impatient voice” when it comes to homework.) Which leads me to just want to take over because, quite frankly, I’m much nicer and my daughter is much happier when I just tell her what to do.

When it comes to spelling, I can tell when she’s too tired, because her letters get bigger and BIGGER. And, her spelling, even the words she’s known how to spell since first grade, turns to shit. Excuse my French (and English.) So when she has to come up with words from a list of random letters, I sometimes just say, “On,” and, “Open,” and, “Gone,” giving her “helpful suggestions” in making up the words that she then writes down. But, really, am I just doing her homework for her? Well, yeah. Kind of. Sort of. But not all of it. She, too, comes up with words – just not as many as I do!

The other day she came home with a list of random letters from which she not only had to make three-, four- and five-letter words , but all the letters spelled a “big secret” word. I looked at the scrambled letters and immediately knew what the “big secret” word was. I love word scrambles and crossword puzzles, and I really couldn’t hold it in. “The letters spell the word ‘COMMUNITIES!’” I screamed out. I couldn’t help it. Spelling homework, to me, is fun. So if I see a list of letters, I am the one who wants to come up with as many words as I can. My daughter doesn’t get mad or anything. She watches me, amazed and proud, and writes down the words I list off. I feel smart and my daughter thinks I’m smart!

Yes, technically, you could say that I’m doing her homework, but I think she’s learning by example, because I point out how I found the words and say things like, “If you just add an ‘S’ to every word, you’ll have a five-letter word instead of a four-letter one.” Then there was the homework called “Personal Artifacts” where she had to bring in three things that tell “who she is.” She wanted to bring in stuffed animals. I was the one who said, “You’re in third grade now. Why don’t you bring in your favorite book, a pair of ballet slippers and some photos of your family?” She did. I made her practice what she was going to say about each item, and I chimed in with, “You could also say….” So am I doing her homework or just helping?

Last year, I was a bit of a Tiger Mom when it came to her weekly spelling tests. I would act like her teacher and call out the words and she’d write them down. Then if she got any wrong, I’d say, “WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!” and write HUGE ‘x’s across the misspelled words and get her to write them down five times. It sounds awful, but we actually had a lot of fun doing this. I got to play teacher and she loved it. Helping, or even DOING, her homework is a bonding experience. If I just let her do her homework alone, then I wouldn’t be spending time with her. And, honestly, I rather make homework fun and help her a lot sometimes, than just leave it all to her.

Last year she had to do a presentation on elephants. She did do all the research, the hard part, but I helped (or rather I did) cut out really cute photos of elephants and cartoons of elephants to make her Bristol board stand out from her classmates’. We had a super fun time doing this together, even though it was me who found all the photos and cartoons. Do I feel bad? Nope. I don’t feel all that bad practically doing her homework for her, because it’s a time thing. If I believed that homework was more important at her age than playing with friends after school outdoors, or dancing, which she loves, than she’d have all the time in the world to do her homework on her own. But since there isn’t so much time, and mommy doesn’t believe she is doing any harm in helping  a lot, then so be it.

But, when it comes to math, I leave that to her. I hate math. I will look at her math homework to see if she’s done it, but that’s all. So maybe, yes, I do her homework for her (or at least really, really chip in) – but I only do the fun homework. And you?

(Photo: Comstock)

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  • CI

    Your desire to “help” her seems to be more about making yourself feel good. You need to cut out an elephant to feel smart? You need a child’s admiration to “prove” you’re smart? Maybe you should find something that YOU can work on while your daughter does her own homework.

    The worst part of this type of situation is how it affects the child’s peers. When I was a child, my parents didn’t help me on anything. A lot of my classmates received a lot of aid from their parents and it showed. So those kids (whose engineer parents did their algebra) got excellent grades and the rest of us had to keep up with ADULTS. Every kid in that class knows you do her homework. They will certainly resent her for it. How can you justify that?

    I guess it will slap you in the face when she gets older and can’t write a paper to save her life. Hope you’re prepared to read all her textbooks then, too!

  • http://www.topbritishessays.com/ essay reviews

    That’s a good idea. Helping our kids for their home-work is not bad because we only helping their difficulties in making their home-work. But the main thing here is that they will still be the one who is responsible for making it well on their study.

  • Midori

    My parents can’t do my homework because I’m thirteen and in 8th grade and they say it’s too hard for them. I don’t have any extracurricular activities (other than church, reading and writing, but the latter two are just hobbies which I barely have time to do) and my life basically revolves around homework. It is really, really hard and I have way too much and I have migraines often on top of that. My dad helps with what he can help with, but more often than not he can’t. So my parents let me Google search the answers. We’ll each look up an answer so it can be done faster, but I only do that if we’ve tried the problem first and can’t get it. Even then we try to get an understanding of how it works. If not then that’s okay. Apparently it has not made me illiterate and I’m sure I’ll do fine in life without knowing the answer to that one really hard algebra problem that looks like this: 4x-1 = 2(2x+30)

    It’s okay to help or even do your daughter’s homework, I think, but what’s wrong is evading the hard subjects. Just doing the easy ones. I do the easy ones on my own – language arts, history, most of the time science and art – but my parents help me with the hard ones like EdTech and Math. I have all A’s in everything, but math which I have a 69% in and EdTech with a low B. The ones I really need help with. And I think that’s what bonds us. That they’re willing to sacrifice their time to help me succeed. That’s real love.