Stand Up For Yourself


Image by Sean MacEntee via Flickr

Monday night, my son was struggling to get all of his homework done before bed.  He had a 6 page packet of work from his advanced math class that he was supposed to have done over the weekend.

When I asked him why he hadn’t done it, he told me he forgot about it.

I wasn’t happy.

We’ve had a lot of conversations about responsibility and planning over the years.  He knows better.

Cue Dad Lecture #26.

Towards the end, when I’m building up this rocking crescendo about how what he does now will affect him for the rest of his life, I stopped.

“Buddy, weren’t you sick on Friday?”

He didn’t get his weekend homework until Monday.  Of course he didn’t do it over the weekend.

Dad Lecture #26 immediately transitioned to Ad Hoc Lecture #4, titled “Why did you let me chew you out for something you didn’t do?”

I’ve always tried to raise my kids to be independent.  I’ve never stifled asking questions, and I am willing to explain my decisions to them, even if they don’t stand a chance of winning the appeal.   As frustrating as independent, strong-willed children can be, I know it will serve them well as adults.

Now I’m trying to figure out why that fell apart on Monday.  I wasn’t yelling at him and he doesn’t think I was.   Sometimes, the perception of who’s yelling differs depending on which side of my loud voice you are on.

He doesn’t know why he sat back at took the lecture instead of explaining what happened.  He apparently forgot that he was given that homework just a few hours before.

My question to all of you is how can I make my kid behave and obey when necessary, but still have enough backbone to stand up for himself when he’s not wrong?  And know when each is necessary.

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    1. Standing up for myself is definitely something I have been working on over the last number of years. Growing up I was a doormat. I had no confidence and this got me no where. Since I have developed more confidence I make much better decisions and am much more happier.

    2. I think you’re doing things right. You allow your children to question you, you’ve told them that they can and should stand up to you when you’re in the wrong. The only other thing that I see is to make sure they’re involved in confidence building activities, like sports or debate. And, if they have to stand up to a teacher or other authority figure, make sure they know you have their back (as long as, you do in, fact, have their back)

    3. I think the fact that he sat back and let your fully explain yourself without interrupting or getting upset proves that your way to teaching is working.

      I believe he used a technique from the book “how to win friends and influence people” He didn’t want to correct you in the middle of the speech and wanted you to feel as though your point was getting across.

    4. Sometimes it’s easier to keep your mouth shut. As long as you know you’re “right” it doesn’t really matter sometimes. In this case, it seems like he just forgot though.

    5. Loud voices scare kids. You stated that you have one. Try modulating your voice. Try exploring the topic prior to launching a lecture – with questions. Granted that can sometimes lead to creative excuse making and you still need to get your lecture point across, but sometimes it reveals facts relevant to the situation.

      Good for you for trying to raise a responsible kid. Some parents just don’t even make the effort.

    6. Sounds like you are a responsive parent. It’s easy to just tell the kids the way you want it to happen, but takes some finesse to help them learn and grow. Good article.

    7. First gen American says:

      Its definitely a delicate balance. I can already tell which of my kids will challenge me more vs using me to death.

    8. Is it possible he just didn’t care to get into it? My brother’s 12, and he’ll take a lecture from my mom rather than explain himself. The way he figures it is that he knows he’s doing ok, so it doesn’t matter if Mom thinks he could have planned better. He’ll learn on his own, I suppose 🙂

      • It’s possible, but this was getting to be bed time with homework he needed help with, so I don’t think he was trying to avoid anything.

        Turns out, he was misunderstanding the assignment, anyway. The teacher has been assigning pages out of the packet every night, NOT expecting it all to be done at once.


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