Young girl doing homework


My Daughter Won’t Let Me Do Her Homework

Sep 3, 2019

My kid is sitting on the other side of the room, two-finger typing a speech for her class contest. I’m biting my lip as I sit across from her, pretending not to pay attention to the painfully slow click, click, click on the computer.

I’ve been banished to this side of the room. My offer to help her has been unceremoniously shut down. And it’s eating me alive.

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I open my mouth to ask: Does she have a punchy opener? Is there enough meat in the middle? How about a catchy closer?

But she quickly puts me in my place: “This is MY homework. Parents aren’t allowed to help.”

Well excuse me, but doesn’t she know who I am? I don’t mean to brag here, but in Grade 8 I rocked my class speech contest. In fact, I won it for the whole school! How? My parents helped me. A lot.

Is it wrong to want to do more than simply police my kid’s education?

I know that sounds wrong. And I blush a little as I type it. But “collaborating” with my parents on my kickass speech that won the school contest is one of my favourite childhood memories. It was also the most valuable.

As a 12-year-old, I didn’t have a clue how to write a compelling oral presentation. And while I had some wonderful teachers, the reality is that they didn’t have the time to help me learn how to craft a speech. It was my mom and dad who instilled what components made for an interesting piece. And the thrill of succeeding ignited in me a lifelong passion for writing.

But as a parent, I struggle with how involved I should be in my kid’s homework. There’s a definite vibe that I should be a responsible parent who ensures my child completes her assignments. But when it comes to the actual nitty gritty of the work, I’m supposed to back off. Is it wrong to want to do more than simply police my kid’s education?

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Apparently some people think it is. While most school boards suggest parents should help kids set up a quiet place and a regular work schedule, they otherwise recommend a hands-off approach. And some studies conclude that too much parental support can be detrimental to a kid’s ability to work independently.

But not everyone agrees. A 2018 study showed that students develop a healthier and more positive attitude towards learning when they have a deeper understanding of how it will enhance their lives down the road. It seems to me that’s where parents come in.

What I want for my daughter, more than anything, is to help light a spark for her to want to learn. It’s important she understand how she’ll be able to apply her speech writing skills beyond the classroom. Maybe it’ll be a job interview, arguing a case in court or running for office — or maybe it'll be an even more compelling argument as to why she should finally get her own YouTube channel.

For now, I remain on my side of the room as she clicks away at her speech. I’m giving her the space to figure it out for herself.

But If she changes her mind and wants my help, this former speech-contest champ is ready, able and more than willing to pitch in.

Article Author Laura Mullin
Laura Mullin

Read more from Laura here.

Laura Mullin is a published playwright and writer and the co-artistic director of the award-winning company, Expect Theatre. She is also the co-host and producer of PlayME, a podcast that transforms plays into audio dramas now on CBC. She has worked in theatre, film, and television and lives in Toronto with her writer/producer husband and daughter. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @expectlaura.

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