Informania

Don't misunderstand. I am in favor of information. When I am in a canoe on a river, for example, I like to be informed as to whether or not there is a dangerous waterfall up ahead. "Hey, you there in the canoe! There's a dangerous waterfall up ahead!" The information in this communication is doubtless beneficial to my fellow canoeing enthusiasts who, to their dismay, have once again trusted me to remember to bring the water-tight folder labeled "Map of Location of Dangerous Waterfalls."

At the other end of the spectrum are topics that should never be spoken out loud. The acronym "TMI" was coined the same year my Aunt Edna had her gallbladder removed. Coincidence? I think not.

Also on the side of too much information is recent software that allows parents to check their child's grades, homework scores, test results, attendance, and every conceivable measure of academic achievement in real time at every possible instant. Grade point averages to three decimal places can be verified with a click. Information on every test grade from every class is available anywhere parents can go online.

Could constant awareness of your child's every result actually be harmful? Which brings us to another one of those annoying "which came first?" questions: Are you obsessively checking your kid's grades all the time because your child isn't turning in homework? Or is your child not turning in homework because you are checking his grades all the darn time?

Presumably you already know how to divide fractions. Allowing your child to accept the responsibility for her own education might be an important developmental step. Checking to see what grade she got on her homework communicates that you--the parent--own the problem. Sophisticated readers will observe that "problem" in the preceding sentence did not refer to 1/4 divided by 3/8.

Not knowing who is responsible for learning how to divide fractions could lead to an exponentially bigger problem. Because you know who else doesn't take responsibilities for her actions? Drug addicts. A bit of an extrapolation from homework perhaps, but listen in to the patter of an addict: "It wasn't my fault; I just need a car; I can handle it; leave me alone. Stop checking up on me. I know what I'm doing." Addiction is a disease, yes. But the best way to stop is not to start. Kids who know that their problems begin with themselves are less likely to become dependent on opioids. Parents who allow children to know that their problems begin with the children are less likely to become enablers. A little distance and separation between the generations is a good thing. We love our children and we want what is best for our children and we hope that our children will learn how to add fractions, but we can not accept the responsibility for their learning.

Helping our kids understand that they and they alone are responsible for the consequences of their actions is the goal of every loving parent. Kids should uphold the values of their families. Kids should contribute to their communities. Kids should know that they can make mistakes and learn from them not that they are going to be strictly monitored, berated, and rescued. The sooner that parents allow kids to get up by themselves, the sooner the kids will internalize the message that they are on the way to becoming responsible adults.

The most successful contented adults have the least controlling parents. Wouldn't you agree that Darwin's parents never went online to see if Charles had done his biology homework? I'm going to make the same inference about Marie Curie's and Martin Luther King's parents. Before some smarty pants points out the pronounced absence of computers in 19th century England, I'm going to go back to looking for the water-tight folder labeled "Map of Location of Dangerous Waterfalls." My fellow canoeing enthusiasts are counting on me.

2 thoughts on “Informania

  1. Tyeler

    Love reading these blogs and I always leave with some new insight, thoughts and perspectives. Thanks for sharing your art with all of us!

    Reply

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