It is not uncommon for Crew to go to school without his lunch, his backpack, his homework, or his coat. I have even kicked him out of the car before with no shoes on. And this matted cowlick has left the house more than once.
I didn’t want his teacher to think I was a lazy, slobby or uncaring parent. I wanted her to know my parenting style is intentional and deliberate. So I decided to write a letter to his teacher this year and explain my motives and beliefs.
Here’s my letter:
Dear Miss Allen,
I just wanted to write you a letter about how I parent so hopefully you can understand Crew better this school year.
As a parent, I believe in providing structure and routine for my children. I try to set up my household so that my kids can succeed. We have a nice place to do homework with all the necessary supplies. Crew has plenty of time to do it each day. He is not overscheduled or overinvolved in after school activities. Crew goes to bed at approximately the same time every night. He is read to and tucked in. He sleeps 10-11 hours each night. We wake up together as a family with plenty of time to get ready. I feed him a healthy (ish), homemade breakfast each morning. He has the same morning routine every day which includes — get dressed, clean room, make bed, brush teeth, comb hair, take vitamins, record reading and make lunch. He also has a morning routine checklist he can reference in case he forgets what he is supposed to do. He has a designated place for his toothbrush, his backpack, his coat, his homework and his shoes. Along with a lot of training and practice, this organized and consistent structure and routine is how I do my part as a parent.
But as a parent, I also believe in giving kids responsibility and independence and accountability. So I leave the rest up to Crew. I believe it is his job to get himself prepared and ready for the day and then out the door. In the mornings I try not to nag and remind; I just announce the time: “30 minutes until we leave”, 20 minutes until we leave”, etc. to try and help him manage his time. I don’t brush his teeth for him or comb his hair (unless he asks me to help him and then I step in). I don’t check to see if he has his backpack or his lunch or his homework as we get in the car. If he forgets something, I will most likely not bring it to him at school. These are his responsibilities.
There may be an exception here and there, but I figure it is better Crew learn responsibility now when the stakes are low, rather than in Jr. High or High School or college life when the consequences are much more severe. I also feel like the less I take over his homework, his schedule and his appearance, the more he knows I trust him — the more he knows I think he is capable and competent — the more he realizes his own capacity.
So sometimes Crew may be late if he missed his ride or he might show up to school with messy hair, nasty breath or a stained shirt. He might not have his homework or his lunch. In that case, he can always turn his homework in late or eat school lunch. His reading calendar may not be marked sufficiently. There is even a chance he might not be wearing any shoes or a coat in the dead of winter.
Don’t be alarmed. Crew is loved and cared for. He has hot water and hair gel. He has a toothbrush and toothpaste. He has matching clothes and a warm coat. I don’t want you to worry that I am poor or neglectful. I don’t want you to think I am lazy or non-caring. Rather I am trying to teach Crew independence and responsibility now so habits and expectations can be formed early as well. I let him fail with small things so he can succeed with big things. I step back so his confidence can grow.
Thanks for understanding where I am coming from as a parent and thanks for your continued patience with my little guy.
Tiffany Erickson, Crew’s mom