I Refuse To Help With School Projects Because That’s My Husband’s Job

HM3497-001I’m the day-to-day homework helping parent, except when it comes to math. But present my kids with a diorama to be completed or a literature project or a science fair presentation and I’ll be over here, quietly sipping my coffee and paging through a magazine because Mama don’t do that. My husband spent the majority of his weekend at the office with the kids completing various school projects, and I did NOTHING.

How did I manage this? I have NO idea! I am lucky lucky lucky! I do not help sculpt pandas out of clay, I don’t record the findings of seedlings and how they grow after being exposed to soda and I do not edit three minute long commercials for book reports.

Granted, the bulk of these assignments fall on my kids. We are never going to be the parents who do the work for them and usher them into school holding perfect presentations and meticulously art-directed book reports. The volcanos will always be a little bit-lopsided. But the person making sure the work is done and that spellcheck is used and materials are purchased – the helper in these circumstances is always my husband.

I don’t know how this ended up happening, it’s just one of those trade-offs that parents seem to make when they are co-parenting effectively. I will never ask my husband to braid my daughter’s hair. He is not going to be the one filling out piles of paperwork and permission slips. He’s not the guy frosting cupcakes for the bake sale. But he’s the one who helped my daughter create a three-minute video for a school project this weekend and all I had to do was watch the final result and give them both high-fives.

I’m going to bake my man a pie, a lemon meringue pie that no one else likes and is his favorite. I’m going to fix him an extra nice cocktail and let him watch Top Gear all night and remind him again how totally thankful I am that I never have to cite resources and haul ass to the public library and find perfect little plastic bamboo trees for the clay panda. I love being a mom, I love helping my kids do stuff, but when it comes to turning a shoebox into a diorama, I am all too happy my husband has made this his parenting job.

Along with chauffeuring my kid to choir practices and releasing any spiders in our home into the wild. Make that two pies.

(Image: getty Images)

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  • Emil

    I think I am about to get a rude awakening about how much time I have to spend with my children doing homework. This surprises me only because I have no memory of my parents helping me with my homework. There may have been the occasional proofread of an assignment but spending the majority of the weekend in the office with the kids doing schoolwork? That certainly never happened in my house. I guess times have changed and it’s good to know that in advance. Not looking forward to it.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      It is ABSURD the amount of HW my kids get. we do make them do the majority of work but all the supplies being bought and making sure they do it all, ugh, it’s really a whole other almost full time job

    • Marianna

      That’s crazy! Do they have time to play and do extracurricular activities they enjoy?

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      No. Hahha. On weekends mainly

    • Marianna

      That sucks, schools need to realize kids need time to be kids and just play. Do your kids get very tired?

    • JLH1986

      One of the counselors where I interned previously (thank you 18 month long unpaid internship) actually had a conference (with permission of course) with a teacher, a foster parent and case worker stating the client wasn’t in a place to handle hours and hours of homework (she was in the 2nd grade) and that her ADD/ADHD symptoms would be better managed through physical activity. The teacher refused to comply and the foster parents ended up threatening to pull her from the private school. Sure enough after 3 weeks her behavior returned to normal (foster parents initially received her in summer when she could run and play). I don’t remember hours and hours of homework until high school and that was usually my fault for putting it all off.

    • Marianna

      Same here. I remember as a kid I had a lot of stuff to do because I was a very active (I’m sure I would have received an adhd diagnosis nowadays, but this wasn’t so common when I was growing up) child, so in order to burn off energy I was involved in all sorts of extracurricular activities I enjoyed (ballet, gymnastics, beach volleyball, etc.) and I still had time to go to school, finish my homework and play. But I had a LOT of homework in high school, attended classes from 7:00 am until 5:30 pm and had to manage to do all the work at night. Was only able to rest on weekends, and I was exhausted, so I can only imagine how hard it must be being a little kid and having a ton of homework. I wonder what will happen to these kids when they get to high school.

    • Alicia Kiner

      My son is in 4th grade and has an average of 2 hours of homework Monday through Friday. He hasn’t had any projects yet but he just finished soccer season. I dreaded practice nights because I knew it was going to be a rough night, between homework, dinner, practice, and then showering. And it was. We were lucky if he was in bed before 10. The teachers have such a large amount of curriculum to cram into each year for the kids to perform well on the standardized tests. It’s ridiculous.

    • TngldBlue

      I totally agree. I have vague memories of my mom helping with big projects cause she’s super creative but not always and day to day homework? No way. I clearly remember doing that at a desk in my bedroom with the door closed, heck I don’t even remember them ever checking to make sure I actually did my homework. Maybe they figured they’d find out eventually if I wasn’t? So dreading it.

    • Rachel Sea

      I started getting hours of homework in 1st grade, and I think it was expected that parents would help, but my parents didn’t speak the language (French).

    • Emil

      That’s going to be my situation, my daughter is going to a French school and my French is poor (my husband’s is only a little better). Please tell me everything turned out all right for you so I won’t be so anxious.

    • Rachel Sea

      The language issues were hard, but I managed, and my parents spoke no French (they called the local restaurant, La Printemps, Loprin-tomps). The problems I had were all social/cultural. The teachers HATED the American kids, and incited the French kids to bully us. The teachers would name-call, and striking us with rulers if we spoke English. I was beaten up often by older kids from the time I was 6, and the teachers would look on and do nothing. Eventually their negligence caused a 9 year old girl to die on a ski trip, at which point the administration was completely changed over, but that was a few years after I left.

      Academically, I was very advanced when it was time to switch to American school. I had to learn to change my handwriting (I only knew French cursive, not American script or printing), and use some different arithmetic symbols, but I was ahead in the humanities, and sciences.

    • Marianna

      What a bunch of assholes. Please tell me they were fired. How can a teacher be able to incite bullying. That’s ridiculous.

      I find it very interesting that in the States people learn print first and then cursive. Here in Brazil we learn to write in cursive and were not allowed to use print at all during elementary school, which is comprised of grades 1(equivalent to kindergarten) through 9 (equivalent to 8th grade).

    • Rachel Sea

      I don’t actually know what happened to any of them. I didn’t realize that some of what they were doing was illegal (they would draw blood with the metal edge on the rulers) until I was an adult.

      I was only ever taught cursive, I taught myself printing in middle school when I needed to be able to do it for project displays. The groans when my American classmates had to write in cursive for an assignment…it was like some horrible chore. I think it’s better to learn cursive first, I’m often complimented on my penmanship, and am much better able to decipher all types of handwriting than others my age.

    • Emil

      That sounds terrifying! To be so little and be betrayed by the adults that were supposed to protect you! Sounds like language issues were the least of your worries.

    • Rachel Sea

      It didn’t even occur to me how fucked-up it was until I was much, much older. I can’t imagine being an adult and calling a little kid names the way the other American kids and I were. I know that it was abusive, but in retrospect it’s almost comically bizarre. I can only wonder what the hell was wrong with them that they had to empower themselves by putting down, and hitting little kids.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      I try not to make mine a large amount; I have no homework more often than I give any. And I strongly dislike when parents help, just for the same reason. No one helped me; it’s for kids to do.

    • koolchicken

      I decided a long time ago I’m not allowing my kid to do homework until they hit high school. If the school has a problem with that I’m yanking him (I plan to go private). Most homework is just busy work and studies have shown it has no effect on overall performance before 9th or 10th grade anyways. So far as I’m concerned karate, art, or music classes will do far more for him than some worksheet. And after 6-7 hours stuck behind a desk working hard he’ll deserve to do whatever extra curricular strikes his fancy.

  • AP

    When my sister was in 3rd grade (1996), my mom went to Back to School night and the teacher held up projects from previous students to illustrate her standards.

    One was a flawless geography poster that looked like it belonged in a travel agency. This was the early days of Windows, so it really stood out, and parents asked the teacher how a third-grader was supposed to produce work at that level.

    The teacher said, “Oh, well, this child’s father was a professional photographer. But it’s a great example of the kind of grade-A work I’m looking for!”

    • JLH1986

      I had a teacher that would purposefully hand out B’s or C’s if it was clear mom/dad did the work.

    • Rachel Sea

      If my teachers thought a parent had done the work, they gave a zero pending a conference with the principal. They were positive on help, but plenty of overachieving parents take it too far.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      If I *do* get parent work there’s nothing I delight more in than finding errors in it.

    • LJ

      My response to that teacher would have been:


    • Andrea

      So in other words, in order for my kid to get an A, I have to do all the work. Fuck. You. Bitch. (not you, the teacher of course)

  • tilo

    I thought by the title of this piece that it would have been written by Rebecca Eckler, and I was anxious to see the Rebecca bashing that inevitably comes from it. Feeling a little disappointed…

  • Aussiemum

    I have no patience for homework. Yes, we do readers with the littlest one and help out with assignments when help is needed. But come on, theses kids spend 8 hours a day getting stuff crammed into their heads, do they really need to come home and do 4 hours of homework. The eldest is 16 and in yr 10 and the amount of work he is supposed to do is astounding. Mr 13 has just as much as his brother and Miss 11 isn’t too far behind and poor Mr 6 has readers and handouts that have to be completed by the next day. Yes education is important, but when do they get to be kids? When are they supposed to get outside and run around like maniacs in the sunshine or jump in the pool and play whatever pool game is cool this week? How are they supposed to catch up with friends or family when they have 4 assignments, 6 essays and read one of the thickest book in history? Are we teaching our kids to be workaholics before they even get out of school? I refuse to let my kidlets do homework on a Saturday, that’s the one day they can do what ever the hell they want, sleep in, hangout with mates or have sleepover at the grandparents house.

    • Rachel Sea

      I was always told that school is my job…but what adult takes home 4 hours of work every night (double or triple that on weekends)? Homework should be a reinforcement, or extra practice, not the bulk of a grade.

    • Aussiemum

      Exactly! Mr 16 was told if he didn’t hand in a 1500 word assignment by Monday (given on a Friday afternoon mind you) that he would only get a max of 50% mark for the semester. I went down to the school and ask the teacher wtf was she thinking? She also teaches him in another class and had given them an assignment for that class as well on the same day, due on the Tuesday. In what world is a 16 yr going to be able to complete that work load (including all the research and it all has to be documented)? Especially if the 5 other classes he takes, have given him homework as well.
      I work full time and if my boss gave me 4 hours of work to do overnight, I’d be politely telling her where to shove it. There is no way I’m working from 7:30 til 4 everyday then going home to do more work, because she is too lazy to get her fat ass off her couch and actually run her own business and do the paperwork that needs to be done. I have a family to run as well as her business and all she does is shop and cuddle her stupid yappy dogs!

  • smoinpour

    I don’t like it when people right articles saying one thing is a job for a man and another for a woman. Both parents should be helping their child on his or her homework

    • TheGiantPeach

      Then it’s a good thing this article didn’t say that.

  • Mikster

    I hate projects that require more shopping for disposable supplies and more than the most MINIMAL parental handiwork. I finished school. I don’t need to make a log cabin that is built with dowels and notched/grooved. I’m always tempted to send my laundry and work from home in for the teacher to do since I got tied up with school work.

  • Angy

    I may be the worst mother ever, but I always made my son do his own projects. All I did was supply the stuff he needed. I would help him if he needed it, but he had to come up with the ideas and make the stuff. When he was in the 3rd grade, his diorama of the South Pole was just as good as all the ones that the parents made.

  • Julia Sonenshein

    Oh god lemon meringue blech. That is true love.

  • gothicgaelicgirl

    i used to hate my dad helping me with my homework, he’d insist on it even in secondary school. thankfully, one of my teachers told him he was actually making me nervous hovering over my shoulder and stifling me from my work, which was leading to bad grades.
    i appreciated his help when I asked for it but there’s nothing worse than having written an essay only for your dad to say it could be better. =P

  • SA

    Co-parenting at it’s finest. We have definitely slipped into our roles and I think it is great to not have to delegate or make sure everything is exactly 50/50.

    On the other end, I’m surprised at the shock of so many people about homework. In the 80s-90s I remember having TONS. Every subject, most nights. I believe my parents helped when I was struggling and at least through elementary school helped me check my work (I do believe there needs to be some homework supervision), but left me alone for the most part. They helped with projects too, but most of the time it was just to help with ideas or instructions on how to do things that I did not know how to do (would learn something new).

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