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On teaching soft failures...


Liz CA
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http://www.today.com/parents/school-tells-parents-exit-building-kids-will-problem-solve-without-t101998?cid=sm_fb_klg&utm_source=email+marketing+Mailigen&utm_campaign=daily-newsletter&utm_medium=email

 

"Soft failures are learning experiences that are the foundation of becoming an adult. Soft failures have never ruined a life. The lack of soft failures has ruined many lives."

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Brilliant! Yes, soft failures are a part of my parenting approach although I didn't know it had a name. I have a policy of 1 'rescue trip' per term per child for forgotten items. Another area I teach 'soft failures' is that I don't allow exemption from family events or chores (even unexpected ones) for homework or other deadlines. 'Life' doesn't stop for them to catch up if they haven't planned well.

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I think teaching soft failures is much like teaching "grit". It's just more helicoptering.

They have the lives they have. I'm not going to be making it harder for them to make a point. That's another form of micromanaging their life outcomes. Am I the only one who sees it this way?

Also, I didn't read this or any other parenting article. :)

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I think there's a balance. I think allowing a child to experience a "soft failure" is okay, but it's also okay to reach out for help. If I needed help with something I would be shocked if DH told me essentially "too bad so sad."

 

DS10 forgot his instrument ONCE all year, and never usually had to be reminded to take it with him. He's just been really responsible about it in general. So when he forgot it once, I had no problem bringing it to him.

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I think teaching soft failures is much like teaching "grit". It's just more helicoptering.

They have the lives they have. I'm not going to be making it harder for them to make a point. That's another form of micromanaging their life outcomes. Am I the only one who sees it this way?

Also, I didn't read this or any other parenting article. :)

 

Nah, they're not doing any actual teaching (of soft failures), afaict. They just don't allow parents to bring their highschoolers the lunch/homework/etc they forgot.

 

ETA: When I was in high school, if I forgot something seriously important, I'd just go home to get it myself during lunch or w/e. Not that lunch was *quite* long enough - it was about 30 min round trip, and lunch was 25 min, but still.

Edited by luuknam
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I think there's a balance. I think allowing a child to experience a "soft failure" is okay, but it's also okay to reach out for help. If I needed help with something I would be shocked if DH told me essentially "too bad so sad."

 

DS10 forgot his instrument ONCE all year, and never usually had to be reminded to take it with him. He's just been really responsible about it in general. So when he forgot it once, I had no problem bringing it to him.

 

I agree. I see this more as an approach for "chronic" issues. I would still want to parent with grace.

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It's just more helicoptering.

They have the lives they have. I'm not going to be making it harder for them to make a point. 

 

I actually view it the opposite way. By not rushing in to fix things when my kids make bad decisions, I am not helicopter parenting them. I am not treating them like special snowflakes who can't survive the minor bumps and bruises of life. I am not the one who makes my kids' lives harder; they do when they make bad decisions. It's usually my lack of action, not my overt action, that allows a situation to play out.

 

My oldest was the queen of "make a bad decision, blame everyone else." Eventually we got tired of that and started just letting the situation play out. Late for school? Take the late bus; I'm not driving you. Fail to complete the paperwork on time? Miss the opportunity; I'm not pleading to get an exception for you. Most recently it was: Drive unsafely and rack up a bunch of tickets? Lose the insurance; I'm not financing your irresponsible behavior. I think it's important for kids to know that they have the power to shape their lives and that they can't expect other people to fix things for them.

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I think teaching soft failures is much like teaching "grit". It's just more helicoptering.

They have the lives they have. I'm not going to be making it harder for them to make a point. That's another form of micromanaging their life outcomes. Am I the only one who sees it this way?

Also, I didn't read this or any other parenting article. :)

Huh? How is it "more helicoptering" NOT to bring them their lunch/homework/whatever they forgot at home?

How is it "making it harder for them to make a point"?

 

Kids will survive and learn. The parents who bail out their kids from any minor inconvenience are the ones doing the helicoptering, not the ones who let natural consequences take their course.

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It's only helicoptering if you are intentionally setting your kid up to have a "soft failure" experience... like you get a curriculum with a list of ideas on how to set your kid up for failure to learn "lessons".

 

I really hope no one is considering that option!

 

Soft failures can happen when kids have enough freedom in their lives to occasionally make and ride out a bad decision or lack of forethought or irresponsible action.  That's the opposite of helicoptering.  

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That was making the rounds on facebook this past week and I have mixed feelings about it. Sometimes we all have to learn the hard way. Sometimes we problem solve and come up with an alternative. Sometimes someone will help us out. Kids need to learn about all of these possibilities. I do think soft failure is a good way to learn, but I also think parents and schools should be flexible. 

 

As a former ps teacher I'm not thrilled about making a kid go without lunch. Many people have trouble focusing when they're hungry. Of course the kid wouldn't starve and it's not a big deal to skip lunch now and then, but what if there's a test that particular day? And his stomach is rumbling while he's trying to concentrate on the answers? I think lunch should be the major exception to such rules and it doesn't matter whether they're high school age. 

 

Here's a real life example of people not beating you over the head when you mess up. I have an old iPod I want to list on eBay but don't have any Apple charge cords. I would need it charged to take a photo of it turned on so potential buyers can see that it works (and to factory reset it). To complicate matters this one uses an older version of Apple's chargers that not many people have anymore. I have a friend whose dh has an older iPhone and she said I could bring the iPod to a get together with other friends, she'd bring the cord, and I could charge it while we were hanging out. Well, I had a brain fart and forgot the iPod. She said her dh has a speaker that charges and he could use it for a day or two while I took the cord home (I live 30 min. from her so I couldn't just run it back to her after using it). Ds was going to be in her area two days later and would drop the cord off to her. 

 

Should she have said too bad so sad? Let me experience soft failure? Because I'm an adult I get another option but if a kid or teen forgot something they don't get an alternative? That's why I have mixed feelings. Life can be tough, but not every forgetful situation ends with "Too bad you screwed up. Deal with it." 

 

 

 

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I dunno. I figure, we're a family. We help each other. I don't rescue OR make a point of natural consequences as a deliberate parenting strategy. We just live our lives.

 

Forgot lunch or ballet shoes? I'll run it by if I can. If I can't, you're out of luck. I'm even pleasant when I drop it off, and my kids say thanks. Then they remember the next time; I've rarely had to deliver forgotten items more than once. I rarely deliver forgotten items at all. I can only think of a handful of times, and my boys are so scattered right now it's like their brains have been scrambled. :D

 

I forget things too, but I have the power to go get the things I need. Or I go hungry (or without my coffee, which I leave on the kitchen counter :( )--no biggie. I would bring my husband his lunch if he forgot. My adult children have grown to be capable people who know what to do if they forget things, even though I occasionally delivered lunch or notebook or whatever.

 

It's about balance. The idea that I am responsible for catering to and putting myself out for my teen's forgetfulness, nah. But the idea that helping when able is helicoptery rescuing doesn't really float my boat either.

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I dunno. I figure, we're a family. We help each other. I don't rescue OR make a point of natural consequences as a deliberate parenting strategy. We just live our lives.

 

Forgot lunch or ballet shoes? I'll run it by if I can. If I can't, you're out of luck. 

 

It's about balance. The idea that I am responsible for catering to and putting myself out for my teen's forgetfulness, nah. But the idea that helping when able is helicoptery rescuing doesn't really float my boat either.

 

^^^This. In my example if my friend's dh didn't have another way of charging his phone I'd be out of luck and have to make plans to use his charger another time. Natural consequences happen naturally, hence the name. And they continue to happen throughout life. There's no need to specifically teach them and/or label them 'soft failures'. 

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It's about balance. The idea that I am responsible for catering to and putting myself out for my teen's forgetfulness, nah. But the idea that helping when able is helicoptery rescuing doesn't really float my boat either.

 

Yep. I seriously doubt there are actually parents out there who absolutely refuse at all times and in all circumstances to ever help their kids out, and I also doubt there are parents who turn everything upside down in their rush to assist their kids with every small problem. I think most people help out when they can and don't when they can't. When dd forgot her elbow pads and was playing ten minutes from home, I ran home and grabbed them. When she forgot her shin guards and was playing two hours from home, well, she had to scrounge around for other people's extras because I couldn't run home and I wasn't going to purchase a new pair.

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As a former ps teacher I'm not thrilled about making a kid go without lunch. Many people have trouble focusing when they're hungry. Of course the kid wouldn't starve and it's not a big deal to skip lunch now and then, but what if there's a test that particular day? And his stomach is rumbling while he's trying to concentrate on the answers? I think lunch should be the major exception to such rules and it doesn't matter whether they're high school age. 

 

 

Somewhere it said that the kids would NOT go with a lunch, just that they would have to eat the hot lunch or whatever else was available.....and not their from home lunch.

 

I think there needs to be a good balance of helping them out and not rescuing them from every situation/problem.

 

For example, last year I went to an Equestrian team meet with my friend's daughter as friend was out of town.  It was her first one ever.  She was missing some key things....like a cinch to hold the saddle on.  Others at the meet (and even from other competing schools) helped her out and let her borrow what she needed.  We then though did make a list for her of what she needed to remember for next time.

 

I will generally help my kids out a time or 2 a semester if I can, but if it isn't a big issues (like they just need to eat the school lunch instead of what they wanted from home) I let them just face the consequence and go on.  If it becomes a habit they have the choice of having me come with forgotten stuff....and either paying me gas money and/or doing extra chores at home to make up for the extra 45+ minute I was gone helping them out.

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If it becomes a habit 

 

This is usually where I draw the line. My oldest dd decided it was way better to miss the bus and have Dad provide taxi service to school. Mean Old Mom eventually stepped in and told Soft-hearted Dad to knock it off and let dd deal with it on her own. That meant taking the public bus and being late. Eventually, when the consequences at school became severe enough, dd stopped missing the bus.

 

If it hadn't inconvenienced dh to drop dd off at school, that would be one thing. But in practice it meant that dd would announce that she had missed the bus and dh would then scramble around trying to get ready for work early so he could leave early so he could drop dd off on time for school. What's the point of teaching dd that people will routinely pick up her slack and mess up their plans to accommodate her?

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I wonder if this focus on kids forgetting lunch/homework/gear/etc as a lesson opportunity is because we have so effectively limited any freedom that might lead to more authentic natural consequences.  That is, the child who is not allowed to roam the neighborhood is never going to run the risk of forgetting a bike outside and having it stolen or damaged.  A kid who isn't sent to the corner store to buy something for mom is not going to have the opportunity to risk spending a bit on the side for candy in hopes mom won't check the change.  What about falling out of a tree and breaking an arm?  And so on, and so on.  Now, not everyone lives in a neighborhood where this is safe, but it's still a known statistic that kids have less outdoor freedom than in previous generations.  

 

Maybe this obsession with yes or no to bringing the kid the forgotten lunch is because this is apparently the only conceivable soft fail we are willing to still allow our kids. We no longer see "the neighborhood" as a place where soft fails can occur.  Instead, it's morphed into a danger zone where only "hard fails" can occur.  

 

Just me musing...  

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I also doubt there are parents who turn everything upside down in their rush to assist their kids with every small problem. I think most people help out when they can and don't when they can't.

 

I suspect the school implemented that policy because they were seeing too many parents bringing by stuff too often (schools rarely make up rules out of the blue). If you're a stay-at-home parent, you almost always 'can' bring the forgotten lunch/homework/etc - there won't be many times that you can't. And if a school sees the same parents over and over again during a semester, the school can have a little chat with them, but they can disagree, and unless you make a rule like in the OP, it's hard to say "these parents have brought forgotten stuff too many times this semester, while those parents are still fine". People would start complaining about it being unfair, unless you start tracking how often everybody's parent has brought them stuff, which adds unnecessary work. They may very well make exceptions when it's important - if the kid forgot his inhaler, they're probably fine with the parents bringing it.

Edited by luuknam
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I dunno. I figure, we're a family. We help each other. I don't rescue OR make a point of natural consequences as a deliberate parenting strategy. We just live our lives.

 

Forgot lunch or ballet shoes? I'll run it by if I can. If I can't, you're out of luck. I'm even pleasant when I drop it off, and my kids say thanks. Then they remember the next time; I've rarely had to deliver forgotten items more than once. I rarely deliver forgotten items at all. I can only think of a handful of times, and my boys are so scattered right now it's like their brains have been scrambled. :D

 

I forget things too, but I have the power to go get the things I need. Or I go hungry (or without my coffee, which I leave on the kitchen counter :( )--no biggie. I would bring my husband his lunch if he forgot. My adult children have grown to be capable people who know what to do if they forget things, even though I occasionally delivered lunch or notebook or whatever.

 

It's about balance. The idea that I am responsible for catering to and putting myself out for my teen's forgetfulness, nah. But the idea that helping when able is helicoptery rescuing doesn't really float my boat either.

 

At this stage in my life, I tend to agree with your thoughts.

 

I am realizing when my oldest was young and forgetful, I was way too worried about her learning to be "responsible". I see now that her chronic forgetfulness was an early sign of anxiety.

 

I have an acquaintance of over a decade. I've always been somewhat disdainful of her parenting; the kids were kept from any experience in which they were likely to be less than a rousing success. I have to say though, that those kids are now some of the most confident kids I know. I guess it remains to be seen how the adult years go, but they certainly believe in themselves, and there is something to that.

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Somewhere it said that the kids would NOT go with a lunch, just that they would have to eat the hot lunch or whatever else was available.....and not their from home lunch.

 

Well good, I'm glad to know that. I just read the sign when people were posting it on facebook and didn't read the article. And of course there will have to be exceptions made for kids with allergies.

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This was also making the rounds on my FB...

 

I feel like having a hard stance either way is problematic. Never, ever allowing a parent to bring something is no good. Swooping in to save a kid who is constantly forgetting is also no good. I hate these one size fits all approaches. And I get why schools feel they need them (I've been there in the classroom) but it doesn't serve kids' development to have these hard lines.

 

I also feel like a lot of the time the consequences for a kid forgetting something are dramatically higher than for an adult, which is just completely unfair. If an adult forgets their lunch, we can choose to buy a lunch or go home on our break and get it or go without or just get a vending machine snack to tide us over... Kids don't have those choices. They often don't have money and usually don't have independent transportation. So it's all well and good for us, as the older, more experienced, much more empowered to fix our problems parents to say, "suck it up, buttercup," when we don't ever have to face being hungry the way a teen in the middle of the day is.

 

Finally, there's an economic and class element to this that I'm not totally sure how to tease out. Middle class parents can often bring things when needed (appropriate or not) to their kids. Working class parents who have less job flexibility and may not have independent transportation are much less likely to be able to. It's yet another privilege of having a parent with a car, plenty of gas money, and flexible work hours and/or no job outside the home at all.

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I disagree that consequences are dramatically higher for a kid.  First, I don't know many folks who can just "go home" on a break. I have worked exactly 2 jobs, out of about 10 ish, where I could just "go home" on a break.  I had one job where my break was an hour, and I lived 15 minutes away, so it wasn't a problem.  Another, my break was only a half hour but I only lived 10 minutes away.  Every other job was half hour breaks, and living at least 20 minutes away.  And choosing to buy lunch...again, that was absolutely an option for my oldest, since the money was in her account....and most schools have student accounts now and don't use much cash anyway.  And vending machines....there's quite a push to get them OUT of schools, which means that for now, many schools actually still have them. 

 

But this is what I mean about how there's a class element as well. Most jobs I've had I could either go buy or bring lunch easily. Some teens can... but many others can't.

 

If you were headed to work and forgot work, you'd turn around and go back and get it. If you forgot your workout clothes, you'd skip the workout at lunch. If you forgot to pay a bill, you'd pay the penalty. But for kids, sometimes the penalty is a massively lower grade, not a minor penalty. It's not always true... I just find that as adults, we have a lot of options in front of us for how to handle a mistake. But kids are often stuck at school with zero options. You forgot, you can't choose between different ways to handle it, you just have to go take the zero. End stop. Sometimes true for adults as well, but not as often as when I was a teen.

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I think it's relevant that the policy is at a high school and not an elementary school or even a middle school. It makes sense to me that part of prepping kids to go out into the world on their own is to have them learn other ways to problem solve rather than just call Mom or Dad. The principal in the article points out that missing a lunch doesn't mean not eating. The cafeteria will offer them a credit or they could borrow money from the office or a teacher or they could borrow food from a friend. It seems like a good skill for high schoolers to be able to problem solve something like that or even just go talk to a teacher/adult rather than a parent. 

 

It reminds me somewhat of Scouts. Our troop takes the boy led thing very seriously. When they plan to cook, the adults cook for themselves and the boys cook for themselves. There have been times that the boys forget vital things and the adults have those things but don't share. The adult leaders point out that no boy that has forgotten a vital ingredient has every forgotten it a second time.   The adults sometimes have much better food than the boys. That prompted my own son to be inspired to create the same really delicious dessert the adults had on one camping trip on the next one he went on. If the adults had just shared the dessert I'm not sure he would have tried to do it himself. Once on a trip the cook in the group my son was in forgot to bring a lunch for him. He told me about it offhand later. I was really bothered by that but he wasn't. He said he just asked around and took parts of other people's lunches that they didn't want and he ended up with plenty to eat. Again, he wouldn't have done that if one of the adults had said "here's an extra lunch" or solved the problem for him. 

 

 

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It reminds me somewhat of Scouts. Our troop takes the boy led thing very seriously. When they plan to cook, the adults cook for themselves and the boys cook for themselves. There have been times that the boys forget vital things and the adults have those things but don't share. The adult leaders point out that no boy that has forgotten a vital ingredient has every forgotten it a second time.   The adults sometimes have much better food than the boys. That prompted my own son to be inspired to create the same really delicious dessert the adults had on one camping trip on the next one he went on. If the adults had just shared the dessert I'm not sure he would have tried to do it himself. Once on a trip the cook in the group my son was in forgot to bring a lunch for him. He told me about it offhand later. I was really bothered by that but he wasn't. He said he just asked around and took parts of other people's lunches that they didn't want and he ended up with plenty to eat. Again, he wouldn't have done that if one of the adults had said "here's an extra lunch" or solved the problem for him. 

 

I find this (letting them plan, and then discover shortcomings of their plans) to be THE most valuable part of scouts, and really resent the parents who attempt to fix the things the children overlook, whether in advance or after it happens. There is important learning happening here! 

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It's only helicoptering if you are intentionally setting your kid up to have a "soft failure" experience... like you get a curriculum with a list of ideas on how to set your kid up for failure to learn "lessons".

 

I really hope no one is considering that option!

 

Soft failures can happen when kids have enough freedom in their lives to occasionally make and ride out a bad decision or lack of forethought or irresponsible action.  That's the opposite of helicoptering.  

 

that isn't "helicoptering".  Helicoptering is taking all responsibility away from them so they never 'get hurt'.  (until the big bad world has a go . . . )

 

 

 

 

you get a curriculum with a list of ideas on how to set your kid up for failure to learn "lessons".

THAT is reprehensible to me.  a parent 'setting their kid up for failure'?????? (reminds me of the woman who would deliberately get her kid to scream because she thought she was helping.  uh, no. find another way.)

 

life has plenty of opportunity to experience realties 'of failure'' without going looking for them, let alone deliberately setting them up.

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I think the child's attitude can make a difference too. It's one thing if they know that they goofed up and recognize that they are asking a favor from someone who will have to take time of their day and are genuinely grateful for the help... versus an entitled attidude where mom exists for the sole purpose of bailing them out of their problems.

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Are they going to bring them to you? :-P

I tried 2 friends who were coming but they had already left. My dh offered to bring one but concert would be almost done before he could get here.

 

I would have been appreciative though.

 

My fault as I should have double checked to make sure the chairs were still back there. I keep 3 chairs and 2 blankets in there all summer.

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At this stage in my life, I tend to agree with your thoughts.

 

I am realizing when my oldest was young and forgetful, I was way too worried about her learning to be "responsible". I see now that her chronic forgetfulness was an early sign of anxiety.

 

Yes, to the bolded. Me too, with my eldest dd.

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At this stage in my life, I tend to agree with your thoughts.

 

I am realizing when my oldest was young and forgetful, I was way too worried about her learning to be "responsible". I see now that her chronic forgetfulness was an early sign of anxiety.

 

I have an acquaintance of over a decade. I've always been somewhat disdainful of her parenting; the kids were kept from any experience in which they were likely to be less than a rousing success. I have to say though, that those kids are now some of the most confident kids I know. I guess it remains to be seen how the adult years go, but they certainly believe in themselves, and there is something to that.

 

Yeah, I've been seeing the photo all over FB lately.  Especially from the PS employees.  I don't like it for the reasons stated.  I just think that it's so dependent on the child.  I was a highly anxious child & my parents were always trying to teach me responsibility and fretting about my forgetfulness.  These "soft failures" were 100% not helpful and only increased my anxiety.

 

If a particular school is having a lot of trouble with this, I guess having such a policy could be *part* of the solution - but it certainly isn't applicable across the board or appropriate for all students.

Edited by 8circles
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Iirc, this is a private school and a long-standing policy...if that's the case then everyone knows what is expected.

 

Personally though, I don't like it. I don't like being told what to do. If I, the parent, want to deliver a forgotten report etc because *I* know it's what is right for my child then I will deliver it.

 

I was a public school teacher and I taught with people who truly looked down on parents and really thought they "owned" their students.

 

I'm not a fan of schools inserting themselves between parents and children.

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I'm tired of people trying to tell others how to parent. You can win the parenting game no matter what you do. I wish we could go back to trusting people to do what is best for their own children and supporting them as they do just that. 

 

 

 

 

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Personally though, I don't like it. I don't like being told what to do. If I, the parent, want to deliver a forgotten report etc because *I* know it's what is right for my child then I will deliver it.

 

I was a public school teacher and I taught with people who truly looked down on parents and really thought they "owned" their students.

 

I'm not a fan of schools inserting themselves between parents and children.

 

It doesn't end when they get to college. At parent orientation, we were told to tell our kids not to come home for a few weeks so they could settle in and develop a social network. We would never tell him not to come home! He is our son and he is welcome here. He is the best judge of when he needs to come home and we are the best judge of when we need him to come home. 

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But this is what I mean about how there's a class element as well. Most jobs I've had I could either go buy or bring lunch easily. Some teens can... but many others can't.

 

If you were headed to work and forgot work, you'd turn around and go back and get it. If you forgot your workout clothes, you'd skip the workout at lunch. If you forgot to pay a bill, you'd pay the penalty. But for kids, sometimes the penalty is a massively lower grade, not a minor penalty. It's not always true... I just find that as adults, we have a lot of options in front of us for how to handle a mistake. But kids are often stuck at school with zero options. You forgot, you can't choose between different ways to handle it, you just have to go take the zero. End stop. Sometimes true for adults as well, but not as often as when I was a teen.

 

But not allowing parents to bring in forgotten work helps level the playing field. If all the parents bring their kids their forgotten work, then teachers are a lot less likely to make exceptions to the rare student whose parents can't/won't.

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I was a public school teacher and I taught with people who truly looked down on parents and really thought they "owned" their students.

 

I'm not a fan of schools inserting themselves between parents and children.

 

This was my absolute number one complaint about the schools my daughter was in. They believed they knew what was best for my daughter, they believed they had a right to parent her, they believed they had a right to tell me what to do, and they interfered in non-school issues that they had no business interfering in.

 

My experience was that when schools told parents they wanted them to be involved, that was bs and what they really hoped was that parents would shut up and let the schools do whatever they wanted to do.

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I think that thinking about this conciously seems a bit over the top, but it is a response to something of a parenting trend.  Which isn't to say that everyone does it, but it's enough that teachers at universities and other post-secondary places, and jobs that employ young people, have noticed a bit of a shift - essentially to young people that don't have as much experience of how to deal with failure or really being left to solve a problem alone.  So they are older, without those skills, and maybe very anxious as a result.

 

I don't think something like that has to be everyone to see it as a trend that came along in parenting for a variety of reasons.  One might just be kids having more direct access to help via cell-phones and such.

 

Speaking generally, when a trend like that seems just normal to people, changing it or moving it in a less unhealthy direction can sometimes mean doing so in a way that is a little more self-concious, and would be unneccesary in other circumstances.  On an individual level, for example, maybe I realize I just praise my child so much it is unhelpful rather than helpful, just in a reflexive manner.  I might have to think very conciously about changing that habit in myslef, whereas someone who never had such a habit might not need to think about it at all.

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But not allowing parents to bring in forgotten work helps level the playing field. If all the parents bring their kids their forgotten work, then teachers are a lot less likely to make exceptions to the rare student whose parents can't/won't.

 

Just musing, and not saying I am pro this thought, but if the idea is to teach life lessons then wouldn't it be more of a life lesson to teach them that the playing field isn't level?  If my DH forgets his lunch or laptop at home he has a problem.  He has a 45 minute commute to work.  If he gets there it is a big deal to have to head home and get something.  If a co-worker who lives 5 minutes away forgets, it is no big deal to run and get it.  Not a level playing field.

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But not allowing parents to bring in forgotten work helps level the playing field. If all the parents bring their kids their forgotten work, then teachers are a lot less likely to make exceptions to the rare student whose parents can't/won't.

 

 

Just musing, and not saying I am pro this thought, but if the idea is to teach life lessons then wouldn't it be more of a life lesson to teach them that the playing field isn't level?  If my DH forgets his lunch or laptop at home he has a problem.  He has a 45 minute commute to work.  If he gets there it is a big deal to have to head home and get something.  If a co-worker who lives 5 minutes away forgets, it is no big deal to run and get it.  Not a level playing field.

 

 

I agree. The playing field isn't level.

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Anyone who thinks the playing field is level is... I don't even know what. Not playing on any field I've ever encountered in the 40 plus years I've been alive.

 

And I'm so weary of hearing from teachers and school staff that they know how to make kids responsible and basicly are better parents bc they spend a lot of time in classroom management.

 

It's total blarney. I've known a lot of teachers in public and private schools over the decades and none of them were any better of parents than most anyone else who isn't a teacher. And a LOT of them were horrid examples of getting their act together, professionally or privately, so I give a hearty no thanks to their claims they know better for my kids than I do.

 

As for me? Whether I would do any of it depends on lots of factors. Whether I could, whether the kid was being a pita, how imperative I thought it was.... But whether I could bring them lunch or not? They'll survive. And probably thrive. Eventually. I hope. And if they don't, and that's the worst they can complain about, well I'm going to have a hard time dredging sympathy for awful they had it.

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Just musing, and not saying I am pro this thought, but if the idea is to teach life lessons then wouldn't it be more of a life lesson to teach them that the playing field isn't level?  If my DH forgets his lunch or laptop at home he has a problem.  He has a 45 minute commute to work.  If he gets there it is a big deal to have to head home and get something.  If a co-worker who lives 5 minutes away forgets, it is no big deal to run and get it.  Not a level playing field.

 

I thought the point of schools was to level the playing field. Of course, this is a private school, so YMMV, but I think everybody already knows that the playing field is not level, and it's not a useful skill to 'teach' in school... as opposed to "if you forget your stuff, you don't have it". Sure, the consequences outside of school are not always going to be the same for everyone, though typically mom won't bring you your forgotten w/e when you're 20/30/40/etc.

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If my child forgot her lunch and I was able to run it to her, I would.  I'd do that for an important homework assignment too.  (Maybe not an unimportant one though!)  

 

She'll still have plenty of practice failures:  not getting on a school athletic team, failing a test, not getting the part she wants in the school play, not being invited to a party, etc.  

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yeah, it isn't a level field, but one of the ajor purposes of public education is to try and counteract the problems this creates over time.  So any policy which tends to create more differences between kids, particularly in school performance,  based on their social status, needs to be looked at carefully.

 

The solution isn't always the same - if some kids don't get a lunch, you aren't going to say "no kids can have lunch" you are going to find some way, in the school or through other means, that all the kids get lunch.  OTOH, it might make perfect sense, if there is a contingent of younger kids who can't get reliable/knowledgeable homework help, to decide to not give homework - clearly home is not a suitable place for enough kids to learn school subjects that it makes sense, it only gives a few an extra advantage over the others.

 

But, as far as having parents who can run errands for the kids, bring in late assignments and such - a school policy doesn't seem far out.  In the end, there is often a policy on how late things can be dropped off to save someone's bacon, and the beginning of the school day isn't an unreasonable one IMO.

 

Also - realistically when these policies come in I think it is often because there is a real PITA aspect of the behavior - maybe it's happening so often it's disrupting the work of the admin person, that sort of thing.

 

The "soft fail" aspect to me kind of folds into all that naturally - if the rules are clear, and the consequences aren't draconian (you won't fail the year or starve because you forgot something at home one day) then riles about such things makes the day smooth and predictable and also gives lots of natural opportunities to learn to organize oneself and experience the consequences of being lazy about it. 

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Finally, there's an economic and class element to this that I'm not totally sure how to tease out. Middle class parents can often bring things when needed (appropriate or not) to their kids. Working class parents who have less job flexibility and may not have independent transportation are much less likely to be able to. It's yet another privilege of having a parent with a car, plenty of gas money, and flexible work hours and/or no job outside the home at all.

 

That's also true in a work environment, not just in an educational environment. I've read (somewhere???) that people who have a stay-at-home spouse get promoted and get raises more frequently than those who do not. Granted, I did read that years ago, so it may no longer hold true. 

 

By way of personal example, though, because I am a SAHW, I can take things to my husband at his office if he needs them, which saves him the travel time. I have also saved his bacon more than ones by bringing things to the airport as he was waiting for a departing flight. Without my being able to do that, his company could have lost contracts and/or billable hours as he waited at his destination for his supplies to be sent via FedEx. I have overnighted things to him while he was on business trips that enabled him to extend the trip and therefore extend billable hours. Someone who doesn't have a SAHS might not have the freedom to extend trips due to childcare or other issues. Because I am a SAHW, I can make phone calls for him to set up doctor and dentist appointments and reschedule them as needed as well as run a bunch of errands for him. 

 

So really, the fact really just remains that the playing field isn't level for everyone, anywhere. 

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