So much going on in the news… can’t help but share this one. I’m sure you’ll gasp as I did at the story leading the piece. But are any of us too far off that sweet mom? Thinking she was helping her kid?

When we cringe at stats concerning parental involvement in the hiring process of their kid (according to a Michigan State survey: 1/2 are involved by directly obtaining information on employers, 1/4 go so far as to negotiate salary, 4% actually attend the interview), we secretly hope it won’t be us?!

Well, here’s the latest on Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail by Jessica Lahey in The Atlantic:

Thirteen years ago, when I was a relatively new teacher, stumbling around my classroom on wobbly legs, I had to call a students’ mother to inform her that I would be initiating disciplinary proceedings against her daughter for plagiarism, and that furthermore, her daughter would receive a zero for the plagiarized paper.

“You can’t do that. She didn’t do anything wrong,” the mother informed me, enraged.

“But she did. I was able to find entire paragraphs lifted off of web sites,” I stammered.

“No, I mean she didn’t do it. I did. I wrote her paper.”

I don’t remember what I said in response, but I’m fairly confident I had to take a moment to digest what I had just heard. And what would I do, anyway? Suspend the mother? Keep her in for lunch detention and make her write “I will not write my daughter’s papers using articles plagiarized from the Internet” one hundred times on the board? In all fairness, the mother submitted a defense: her daughter had been stressed out, and she did not want her to get sick or overwhelmed.

In the end, my student received a zero and I made sure she re-wrote the paper. Herself. Sure, I didn’t have the authority to discipline the student’s mother, but I have done so many times in my dreams.

While I am not sure what the mother gained from the experience, the daughter gained an understanding of consequences, and I gained a war story. I don’t even bother with the old reliables anymore: the mother who “helps” a bit too much with the child’s math homework, the father who builds the student’s science project. Please. Don’t waste my time.

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…

There’s more, which is always worth the read. But most of all, I hope it’s puts some wind in your equipping, letting-them-stand-on-their-own, and letting-them-fall sails today. It’s worth it … on so many levels.

Thanks for walking the road with me.


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