Friday, March 21, 2014

It's Parents, Not Homework that Make Kids Sick.

What an eye sore reading this article from CNN about kids having too much homework and that it will ruin them for life.

Boo hoo!

Wait until you go to university.  The majority of your professors are convinced you're are the only student taking his/her class and assign homework like no other.  Along with having a final that is worth 80% of your grade and problems you are forced to figure out on the spot, not having reviewed how to solve them in class beforehand.  

Wait until you get a real job. Success on the job means you go above and beyond your role to get things done, because they have to be done!  Your boss gives you a deadline that is physically impossible: reconcile 3 months of payroll data of 800 employees in 3 weeks.  I pounded those reconciliations like no other, along with the other deadlines and tasks that had to be done.  At the night before the deadline I went to work at 8AM and did not leave the office until 5AM to shower and get back to the office at 7AM to present all what I did at 10AM.  Oh and I wasn't making $65K+ a yr.  It was probably less than half of that, and nope, not hourly.   But I developed grit and experience that benefited me in other jobs that came along my way.  My payroll overnighter on crack was nothing and will never come close to my long nights with a newborn though.  I deal with it and figure it's life. I have to do the hard things even when I'm tired, sick, and close to my wits end.

It brings me to mind of Amy Chua's "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom", it's a memoir with the thought provoking analysis of the Western mentality vs the Asian mentality of raising children.  An excerpt from the book published in the Wall Street Journal struck a nerve with many parents.

Read the 8000+ comments in the WSJ about the book

Chua mentioned a study where 70% of Western moms thought stressing academic success is not good for kids, and... 0% of Chinese moms felt the opposite.  ZERO

The reason your Asian friends get A's is because their moms believe they can get A's and thus order them to do so, whether from a balanced loving autocratic standpoint, that most Western parents would find harsh, to death-grip parenting.

Chinese moms have no problem making sure their kids get their homework done, even if it takes them hours and whining on the kid's part.  I wouldn't be surprised if these parents felt their kids didn't get ENOUGH homework, and send them off to Kumon after school.  And they certainly won't watch "American Idol" in front of their kid that is trying to finish their homework.

If I had to choose between one parenting style, I'd pick Asian.  Not because my husband is Asian (he has a Western upbringing) but because Asian moms spend the time with their kid on homework and not go blame the teacher and make excuses for their kid when they're struggling in school.

I read some of the comments concerning the CNN article from parents living in Utah.  My first thought from reading the comment was trolls.  The more I thought about it, I know so many people that still can't keep or find a job, can't handle college, dropout, still live with their parents because they can't handle the stress of managing their finances, paying their bills, dealing with insurance companies or *GASP* pay rent

Some comments below which raised my too-thick eyebrows:

"I think kids, especially the really young ones like my 2nd grader, have WAY too much homework these days...I'm also extremely concerned about the 1-2 hours of outdoor play my little guy's missing 5 days a week because he's sitting at the kitchen table slaving away at paperwork and getting fat in the process! And crying because he really needs a break - physically and mentally."

"I have a high-school senior who spends hours on his AP stats homework each night. There is no class time to work on assignments. So, the application of lecture to assignment happens at home where there is, unfortunately, no one to help answer his questions. He has to stay after school often to get the help that he really needs."

"I think homework gets very overwhelming for my kids when they have 8 classes and almost each teacher gives them homework. They will get behind on a few assignments because all they are doing in their spare time is homework"

"I always hated homework... I would get terrible migraines from it. Math was the worst..."

This comment was refreshing and proof that not all is lost in the world (emphasis added):

"Yes, lets soften our already failing education system by not encouraging our High School kids to not do homework. Also no failing anyone, or holding anyone back. Stress is a part of life, it does not get any easier in College or in the workplace. Stop the excuses, if the AP and Honor kids can't handle it then drop back to normal courses. These kids are trying to get into the top tier schools in the country, you have to work hard to do so. I remember pulling all nighters in high school for AP courses, it helped me prep for all nighters in college, and now that I am in the real world I am grateful for that work ethic.  Please, raise adults, not children." 

I am a big fan of Harry Harrison Jr. who has no-nonsense parenting advice that childhood should be preparation for adulthood.  The last point he makes in his article is compelling: "We need to overcome our fears and let our children struggle.  That, more than anything will help them become successful adults."

Another book that I love, "A Nation of Wimps" emphasizes the reason kids are wimpy is because their parents made them wimpy.  According to the author, it's the parents' fault; through doing everything for them, asking the teacher to lighten their kids workload, go with them to their job interviews, give winners and losers a medal etc.

These adults can't function on their own.  They crash instead of bounce back from stress or failure.  They can't confront a problem faced in front of them.  "A Nation of Wimps" elaborates more the consequences of invasive parents and how it already exists.

I know it exists.  I'll never forget an experience I had during my freshman year in college.  I was called to the Dean's office because my roommate's mother thought I was bullying her kid and instead of telling her daughter to talk to me about the problem, the mom went ahead and called the Dean to do something about it.

People who know me personally know I do not come across as a bullying type.
Dave says I'm bossy.  Rude!  ;-D

I believe limiting homework assignments with the intention of easing stress on children will do them more harm than good as adults later in life.

To end the post I love this poem. 

It's not enough to say as a parent "I can do hard things"  As a parent we HAVE to do the hard things to raise successful children.  Moms and Dads should keep what this poem says when parenting seems like a swift kick in the butt and a super dose of humble pie.  


You have to do the hard things. 
  • You have to make the call you’re afraid to make.
  • You have to get up earlier than you want to get up.
  • You have to give more than you get in return right away.
  • You have to care more about others than they care about you.
  • You have to fight when you are already injured, bloody, and sore.
  • You have to feel unsure and insecure when playing it safe seems smarter.
  • You have to lead when no one else is following you yet.
  • You have to invest in yourself even though no one else is.
  • You have to look like a fool while you’re looking for answers you don’t have.
  • You have to grind out the details when it’s easier to shrug them off.
  • You have to deliver results when making excuses is an option.
  • You have to search for your own explanations even when you’re told to accept the “facts.”
  • You have to make mistakes and look like an idiot.
  • You have to try and fail and try again.
  • You have to run faster even though you’re out of breath.
  • You have to be kind to people who have been cruel to you.
  • You have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that are unparalleled.
  • You have to be accountable for your actions even when things go wrong.
  • You have to keep moving towards where you want to be no matter what’s in front of you.
You have to do the hard things. The things that no one else is doing. The things that scare you. The things that make you wonder how much longer you can hold on.
Those are the things that define you. Those are the things that make the difference between living a life of mediocrity or outrageous success.
The hard things are the easiest things to avoid. To excuse away. To pretend like they don’t apply to you.
The simple truth about how ordinary people accomplish outrageous feats of success is that they do the hard things that smarter, wealthier, more qualified people don’t have the courage — or desperation — to do.
Do the hard things. You might be surprised at how amazing you really are.


  1. I wouldn't want to be the one to do that task. Three months work of 800 employees in three weeks? What, he's expecting you'd do 800 employees in a week? If there's only someway to make this easier, such as having computerized records -- heck, even if you have that it still would not be easy. What happened after that?
    Lewis Cobb @


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