Parenting Ups & Downs

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By Rebecca Teti

Monday: Parenting

(Join each day’s Coffee Talk discussion: Mon: Parenting; Tues: Open Forum; Wed: NFP; Thu: Marriage; Fri: Education; Sat/Sun: Changing Roles)

Terrible toddlers? Trying teens? Something in between? This weekly forum is the spot to share your questions and struggles about all things related to parenthood.

Please join us!

Rebecca Teti


  • For us the challenge is the adult child who has had to move back home because of financial/job. We certainly try to give him space, yet there are times I would like to "choke" him. Part of the challenge is the fact he is in so much pain from a back injury. Other than being understanding, giving him his space, any other suggestions or ideas.

    Posted on Dec 10th, 2012 at 6:09 AM by PP

  • Is homeschooling a better option for big families, just in terms of logistics? We have eight, and are increasingly having so much difficulty keeling up with the often conflicting demands that schools place on families. It just seems like the whole world is geared exclusively to the smaller family, and both my husband and I feel like we're constantly having to jump through hoops for the schools, and can't even have any kind of decent home life anymore. Does anyone have any insight into whether homeschooling is a generally more efficient model for large families? Thanks so much!

    Posted on Dec 10th, 2012 at 9:37 AM by robin e

  • Robin, just out of curiosity, what kind of trouble are you having (general or specific)? I only have three kids right now, the two oldest are in a small Catholic school about 15 minutes away. I have often thought that if we had a large family, homeschooling would be logistically easier! I can't imagine getting eight kids up and out the door (unless you have busing) and then the papers that come home for eight kids right about the time you need to make dinner. On the other hand, homeschooling eight kids can't be easy, either, and I think it takes a certain personality to deal with all of it (I don't think I could handle home schooling myself, though I am sure there are lots of home schooling moms who thought that before they jumped in). I guess my question is, are these real demands the school is placing on you, or "perceived" demands? Are you having trouble keeping up with homework, or is it things that might be negotiable with the school, like only selling 4 sets of raffle tickets instead of eight? Are there ways you can just say no more often --- not making cookies for six class Christmas parties, not letting each child volunteer for choir or writing club or volleyball? I think you need to start there first. Figure out what the actual problems are, and then decide if home schooling would solve some of those problems.

    Posted on Dec 10th, 2012 at 10:12 AM by Andrea

  • PP, I'll pray for you and for your son's healing. Not stopping you from discussing that here, but you might want to raise the question again in the weekend forum, dedicated specifically to questions about relations with adult children. It might get more attention there. Good luck!

    Posted on Dec 10th, 2012 at 10:31 AM by Rebecca

  • D Andrea, thanks for your reply. At this point we are down to real requirements of the school. The extra stuff we've learned to drop long ago. Here's an example. Right now we have two little kids whose homework includes reading a story to a parent each night. Then two bigger kids and two teenagers who each need help with homework several nights a week. I actually enjoy helping kids with homework if it's real learning of real subject matter, but there is a ton of busy work assigned to each kid that really shouldn't require my time, imo, or even be done at all quite frankly. Like with my two little ones. I honestly don't have time to sit and listen to two kids in a row read me a story (and some of these are long!)when both of them are reading just fine. What is the point of that? My husband has actually gotten so mad about it that he has flat out forbid me to do it on some nights because we are struggling to help another kid (or two) actually learn geometry or prepare a debate case.But the little guys need my signature saying they read to me for a grade. There are so many other things like this. The idea seems to be that we need to be "involved" in each kids education, but much of the time that is just totally unnecessary, and I want to just say, "that's what I'm paying you for!" I can't help but feel that this is an extremely inefficient system, with a lot of redundancy and one-size-fits-all mentality that large families just literally can't accommodate sometimes. Other things like the constant need to meet with other kids for group projects, or the endless buliding of mobiles and models and making of posters....all this takes a ton of time, money, running around, and parental involvement, which I cannot do if I also need to get ten people fed and clothed in a reasonably decent environment each day. This school year, so many kids have had to be excused from chores so often, we have pretty much dispensed with the notion entirely...not good in a large family, lol. And I also think there is a mentality beginning to take hold with the older kids that their schoolwork and activities are more important than anyone else's needs, and it's each man for himself. This is just since they've been in public high school, where there is zero slack cut for large families' limitations. I am not saying hands-on projects or listening to your child read is valueless. It's just that it's all very labor intensive, and if you extend that effect out in a large group something's got to give. In our house, this causes constant turmoil. And I honestly thinkthink that most times, at least for my kids, learning the periodic table by simply reading about it and memorizing it is actually more effective than spending a week making posters and powerpoints complete with cute little cartoon characters and a funny storyline. Especially when the baby vomited on the laptop, so that's out of commission.... I just think large families need major flexibility to meet their iwn needs, and roll with all the daily punches. I can't do that when I'm not in charge, and I'm just getting do-this, do-that orders nonstop from the outside. Do I sound aggravated? :) Did I just answer my own question? Am I the only one with these problems? Oh, and what about behavior problems that crop up, and just talking to your kids? That is getting shoved to the side too often. And when it isn't, then someone doesn't have clean clothes the next morning!!!!!!!

    Posted on Dec 10th, 2012 at 10:54 AM by robin e

  • While I don't have any school age children yet, I agree with you. I'm not sure when parents started having to do homework for kids. My parents never ever helped with homework. Other than some long term projects, book reports, etc, we never had homework until sixth grade.

    Posted on Dec 10th, 2012 at 11:05 AM by MMH

  • Robin, I completely understand. Like I said, my two oldest are in school, and we have, between the two of them, 25 minutes of reading to listen to every night and they are both excellent readers for their age. I can't imagine trying to sandwich group projects and trig homework in there, too! If you are thinking about homeschooling, what about starting with the youngest few, or the ones still in grade school (if you think it would be too big of a change for you to deal with ALL the school work, or a change the older ones might be resistant to)?

    Posted on Dec 10th, 2012 at 11:58 AM by Andrea

  • Robin, I have 7 kids (much younger then yours by the sound of it--mine are between 4mo and 8 years old) but I don't think I could do it if they were all in school. Homeschooling is time intensive but I don't do busy work and once a kid is doing well on a subject I don't have to use every workbook page or project known to man . . . I just move on. Conversely one of mine takes more time and I will add extra pages/days to the subject if she needs more practice. The beauty of it too is that your big kids can take turns helping little ones too giving you more time with the one who may need it at that moment (and amazingly reviewing subjects for the olders that they may have forgotten). Anyway it may be an option even if you only do the kids not in HS to start off with . . . I think starting everyone at once would cause system breakdown at my house if I was in your shoes! LOL

    Posted on Dec 10th, 2012 at 12:24 PM by Lisa

  • Andrea, thank goodness someone understands! We are thinking of doing what you suggest - just taking out two of the middle kids (the ones probably least well-adapted to school next semester to see if this is a viable option. I think you are right that we might not want to bring to much shock to the system all at once, and our two high schoolers would definitely not be amenable at all to homeschooling at this point in their lives. Too bad, because a few years back they were very interested in it. :( I have thought about this for a long time, and have been so on the edge of pulling certain ones out of school, but have held back out of fear that it's just us - we aren't doing it right and that there must be all this secret knowledge out there of how to copecope better. But the thing is, we only know one other big family irl, and they do have the same complaints, but they do not see homeschooling as realistic for them.I just wonder all the time if there are others out there who have the same issues, and how they manage. Has anyone gone to homeschooling for these reasons, and how did that turn out? Or are we just uniquely incompetent, and someone else out there knows howhow to make this work? You can see I'm a whizz at smartphone typing... ;)

    Posted on Dec 10th, 2012 at 12:41 PM by robin e

  • Lisa, I didn't see your reply while I was fighting with my phone, lol.... Anyway, thanks for your support and insight. What you describe is kind of what I have envisioned - teaching each kid according to their own needs and abilities. It's such a tough decision because we have been a part of this parochial school for so long. I went there myself as a kid, and we've known these families for a long time. It's a very tiny, rural school, so it's very close-knit. I love the teachers, and it's generally a wonderful place. But I feel like it's just too much struggle to do it anymore, and everything is just flying apart at home. Maybe taking it slowly, one year at a time is the best thing for now. Still open to any and all advice!:)

    Posted on Dec 10th, 2012 at 12:50 PM by robin e

  • Robin, we started homeschooling a couple of years ago, for reasons very different from yours. And homeschooling was not something I had ever envisioned for my family. But I have to say, a very positive side effect has been much less stress and better quality family time. Our school work and chores are usually done by early afternoon (and yes, the kids have more time to do chores) so getting dinner ready is no longer stressful, with me being pulled in so many directions to sign this, help with that, listen to this, etc. And after dinner, we can spend our evening however we wish--no homework, chores are done, bedtime can be more relaxed (without the worry about getting up & ready in time for school). Overall, our family (we have five kids) is much more relaxed. I would not have dreamed that homeschooling could be less stressful on a family, but it is for us.

    Posted on Dec 10th, 2012 at 1:11 PM by homeschooling mama

  • Robin, You are not alone. I only have 4 kids, in my district (we have no Catholic school option where we live) that means 4 different schools. The "projects" for the older ones are ridiculous in my opinion, and I don't see how they are really teaching much. There is so much work on the computer, and so much work that requires my participation/intervention, etc. My kids are all really good students, and my inclination would be to let them do their homework by themselves, but often that is just not a possibility. Just last week, my 7th grader was supposed to observe the moon at different times during the day. One of the times was b/w 10:30 and 11pm. Sorry, bedtime is 9 around here (for mom's sanity). I am well known in the school for my notes telling teachers why we haven't done this or that assignment because it interfered with our family plans. I think as parents, we have to hold the line. They have our kids for a really long time during the day, they may not have them in the evenings too in my opinion. Teachers have never penalized my kids for me telling them that a particular assignment was not completed because of family time. I am sure they don't like it, but they deal with it. On the other hand, if my temperment was different, I could see the value of homeschooling to eliminate the tug of war between you and the teachers for your kids' time.

    Posted on Dec 10th, 2012 at 2:46 PM by Danielle M.

  • @ Robin, I haven't read all the replies, but have you talked to the school about the requirement to have your little ones read a story to you every night? I had a friend who had triplets and she would tell the teacher that she would not participate in any reading log, signature or whatever. It didn't affect their grades and the kids are now juniors in high school and doing fine. Sometimes you just have to wink and nod and pretend to go along, other times you can flat out refuse. I refuse to help with my children's homework unless they are on their deathbed. I'm kidding here, but I don't care what kind of grade they get as long as it doesn't involve me doing their work.

    Posted on Dec 10th, 2012 at 3:42 PM by Jennifer

  • Robin, I totally agree that the schools send home so much unnecessary work, even with the young kids. Families don't seem to have any sacred time on weeknights because of it. And some families thrive on that routine. Running from sun up to sun down and then taking a break on the weekends - sometimes. I was raised that way, but I won't do it to my kids. I homeschool and life is much calmer and simpler. It is a lot of work, and I often wish I did send my kids to school just so I could get a few hours to clean the house or spend some playtime with my two tiny kids. But having all my kids at home learning with each other and often enjoying it is better than having the freetime. I want to offer a word of caution or warning. IMHO when you have some being homeschooled and other children in school life is much crazier and more difficult than if you choose to do one type of school for everyone. Last year I sent my kindergartener to public school while homeschooling his older brother. I thought it would give me a break. But what happened was I spent all day helping the oldest. Then just as I was needing a break my other son would come home and I'd spend all afternoon and evening helping him. All the while keeping house and caring for the youngest two. I was burning the candle at both ends. At least with homeschooling all of the kids mom can say, "It's 3o'clock, schools over, I'm done. Everyone go play."

    Posted on Dec 11th, 2012 at 12:16 AM by Kathryn

  • Robin, I don't have anything to add that hasn't already been said. I have 5 children and even when only 2 were in school I couldn't keep up with the endless paperwork, reading logs, PTA events, etc. Toss in 2 children with IEPs and it was MUCH easier to homeschool all of them, even my daughter with high functioning autism, than to send them to school. One thought though if you do decide to keep them in school is to have the little ones read to an older sibling or even a stuffed animal. The truth is it really doesn't matter WHO they read to they will still get the benefit of reading out loud. In my county they use assistance dogs for early or reluctant readers to read out loud to.

    Posted on Dec 11th, 2012 at 6:49 AM by Becky Le

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