My wife and I are both highly educated professionals. We have two children who are both very bright. One has some learning struggles, but nothing that can’t be compensated for with the proper accommodations. The other one excels in math and science.
My wife has always been very involved in the kids’ schoolwork, spending countless hours with them on homework over the years. Neither have ever complained – they don’t know any different.
Now my elder child is in high school, and I don’t think my wife should be sitting with him, helping him with his homework. He must learn to think for himself; he’s extremely capable. But the one time I mentioned it, she went crazy on me, yelling that I’ve never helped the kids with homework so what do I know? And who am I to tell her what she can and cannot do as a parent?
In my opinion, she needs to back off.
From your description, I would agree that your wife needs to back away… but she’s not going to rip off the Band-Aid. She needs to walk away slowly, for both her and your child’s benefit.
Helping your kids with homework is how she felt she could be a good mom. It’s hard to change old habits that define you. Be patient.
FEEDBACK Regarding the teacher who shouts all the time (Oct. 10):
Reader – “I read your mother’s and your advice article daily, with appreciation. I am a retired French immersion teacher. I noticed today's message regarding the concerns of middle school students that their teacher shouts constantly, is critical of them and does not send them to the washroom in good time.
“These are actually health and safety issues. A low-key approach might be for the student to ask the teacher, before or after class, if she may hold up a small ‘washroom’ sign, to indicate her need. This could be a rectangle with a bold printed word on a Popsicle stick, at the student's desk. Or, there could be a small area on the blackboard where students can sign their name - an agreed-upon number at a time - and quietly leave. (With younger students we would just use a hand signal to show that they needed to use the washroom.)
“I do not know why this teacher is shouting. Does she have a hearing issue? Is she new to teaching? I do not think that it is good for students to be in such an environment. I would favour a quieter approach to the shouting as well and do the meeting, only if these other efforts were unsuccessful.”
Reader #2 – “I had to comment on the young lady today who had a problem with a yelling teacher. She treated the problem with a sensitive and intelligent approach above her years and so often missing in today’s world. I congratulate her and her mother for handling it so well and I am sure that, whatever the outcome, she has learned a lot.
“It also reminded me of a similar problem I had many years ago when beginning high school. The teacher was icily sarcastic, which we could handle, but she also did not teach and we saw our year ending badly. Finally, after three months of this, four of us agreed to represent the class in a ‘delegation’ to the principal.
“In retrospect, for those days this was really fools rushing in where angels feared to tread. The principal heard us out politely and carefully and promised to look into it. Nothing more was ever said to us or by the teacher, but from that time forward we had good teaching (with continued sarcasm).”
Reader #3 – “I can certainly sympathize with the young student whose teacher yells all the time. Her story brought back an unpleasant memory of my own childhood days in school.
“Our regular teacher was away for a day and she was replaced by a supply teacher. Having had some experience by then with temporary staff, I thought he might not be aware that our regular teacher allowed us to get up unasked to sharpen our pencils. So, I stuck my hand up to get permission before doing so. He responded by saying, ‘Yes, and you can sharpen your pointed little head too!’
“Even though I am now over 70, I have never forgotten the startled embarrassment and shame that caustic reply caused me. Teachers are usually a remarkable influence for good. But they must be aware that their sometimes-questionable behaviour can also be a source of significant lasting negative effects.”