Letting Children Fail Is Not A Dereliction Of Duty

Teacher Jessica Lahey reminds parents that the educational benefits of consequences are a gift, not a dereliction of duty.

The stories teachers exchange these days reveal a whole new level of overprotectiveness: parents who raise their children in a state of helplessness and powerlessness, children destined to an anxious adulthood, lacking the emotional resources they will need to cope with inevitable setback and failure.

Overparenting is the new parenting. And Lahey’s not talking about the subset of overparenting that, say, refuses to let kids have sleep-overs or drive cars. She’s talking about the type of overparenting that ruins confidence and undermines education or independence.

parents guilty of this kind of overparenting “take their child’s perception as truth, regardless of the facts,” and are “quick to believe their child over the adult and deny the possibility that their child was at fault or would even do something of that nature.”

This is what we teachers see most often: what the authors term “high responsiveness and low demandingness” parents.” These parents are highly responsive to the perceived needs and issues of their children, and don’t give their children the chance to solve their own problems. These parents “rush to school at the whim of a phone call from their child to deliver items such as forgotten lunches, forgotten assignments, forgotten uniforms” and “demand better grades on the final semester reports or threaten withdrawal from school.”

These are the parents who worry me the most — parents who won’t let their child learn.

You see, teachers don’t just teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. We teach responsibility, organization, manners, restraint, and foresight. These skills may not get assessed on standardized testing, but as children plot their journey into adulthood, they are, by far, the most important life skills I teach.

(h/t Tadas)