I once had a teenage client that shared a great visual with me when we were talking about homework and his parents.
“Have you ever been around a helicopter when it is flying really low and coming right at you from far away?”
I told him that I had. My house sits on a direct flight path between The White House and a place called Mt. Weather, which is a sophisticated bunker used in case of a federal emergency. It also houses FEMA, the emergency agency for the U.S. After 9/11, there were probably 50-60 flights a day that would fly at tree top level over my house, shuttling officials between Washington and Mt. Weather.
It’s a very weird noise unless you are prepared for it. At first, it sounds just like a regular helicopter: wump, wump, wump. Then, as it gets closer, you don’t just hear the sounds, you actually start feeling it. I don’t know the technical reasons, but the sound definitely becomes like shock waves. Anywhere in the house you can feel it. If you are outside at the time, it kind of hurts. Then it goes overhead and the pain subsides.
Anyway, back to the story. I told him, yes, I know exactly what he means.
“That’s what homework time is like for me. I begin my homework, and pretty soon I can sense that my dad is beginning to hover. I can’t hear him, but I just know he’s there. He will start with the ‘How’s the homework coming?’ It seems mild enough, but I know that he begin asking me details about every subject. The more I tell him I have it under control, the more he hovers. I get more defensive and annoyed with him, and then he starts telling me to get a better attitude. It never ends up positive.”
Sound familiar? So many of our interactions around schoolwork ends up like this. But it doesn’t have to. In my book Homework: A Parent’s Guide To Helping Out Without Freaking Out, I will show you a system that decreases the anxiety and tension while increasing the chances that the homework will actually get done.