Managing Monday’s: Teenagers and homework
February 13, 2012, 9:34 pm
Filed under: books, homework, humor, love, Parenting, Teenagers | Tags: , , , , ,

Managing Monday’s: Teenagers and homework

Mom, I need your help. Mom can you type this for me? It is only 2000 words and due tomorrow. Mom, I just remembered… Mom, you are so good at art things, will you help me do this little project. Repeat with four children, insert a different class, sometimes a bit more time, but usually due the next day. Sound familiar? Mom, can you help me with this? Sure, I say, and then when I offer a few suggestions, they are rapidly turned down with a rolling of the eyes and a mumbled “Never Mind.”

I wish I had a four step process that would eliminate this scenario. I have certainly tried a variety of tactics. Some have worked but most have failed miserably. Two of my four are pretty good at getting the work done and two, maybe you could guess which two, are forever causing every stress molecule in my body to swell. John of course rarely asks for help. He turns his things in on time or will ask for more time. He pulled all “A’s” this last semester, and continues to amaze me with his work ethic and determination. Jessica, my other all “A” student has learned the bite of procrastination early, and learned very well.

Isaac and Christian however, have no problem asking me for help. They usually minimize their project and almost always wait till the day before it is due. This was a classic scene in the Johnson household last night. Isaac needs help, he has an outline due, he is pretty sure he is supposed to outline the chapter in a paragraph form. He sucks at typing and thinking at the same time so could I please help him. Jessie, who has asked me a few days ago to help her cut out some detailed paper models of RNA and DNA, volunteers to type for Isaac, while I cut.

Isaac wants help, but he only wants help if you will not edit, or correct, what he is telling you to say. He gets hostile if you try to improve what he has written or give suggestions in the middle of his thought. Jessie and I worked with him past 10:30 last night to finish. He then says “oops I forgot, I still have … it won’t take me long mom I promise.” Christian walks in and asks what day it is tomorrow, then starts laughing hysterically like he is the funniest guy in the world.

Isaac comes home today and says, “ You know that thing we were working on last night? Well it is actually not due till Thursday and I need it in outline form not paragraph. Wanna help me do it again on Wednesday?” Where is my glass of wine?

Often when I do help it is usually not accepted, or not what they are looking for. My best strategy so far has been to be available, to try to listen without giving my opinion (not easy) and be near them while they are doing the project. I have found they really do not need my help, they just want to know I am available if they did need something. I am working on the procrastination, but seeing as mopping my floor has been on my list for two weeks now, I am not sure I am the best role model. Pouring a glass of milk, and staying up with them while they finish the work so they do not feel so alone. That I can do.


2 Comments so far
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Love it, Kari. During her sophomore year of high school I remember Annie, the queen of procrastination, telling me at 10:00 p.m. she just remembered a paper she had due for English the next day. She was tempted to bail on the assignment and just go to bed, but I urged her to do the work. I stayed up with her until 1:30 a.m. while she finished and the result was an extraordinary piece of writing (which I did not help with). All she needed was my support by being there.

Hard to know sometimes if our last minute help is enabling our kids to continue with their procrastination, or if it teaches them there’s no escape from completing the task. I still don’t know the answer to that question!

Comment by Barb Stoefen

Too funny Barb. It is an interesting dilemma, one I struggle with as well. But I did get my floor clean! Love you

Comment by Kari

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