True Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad

They sit there on the counter…the math assignment, the library book that’s due today, the worksheet she worked so hard on the night before…forgotten, left behind as she ran out the door to catch the bus. What was the distraction that caused her to forget this time? Was it Spirit Day and she spent her time finding the correct matching headband to go with her school shirt? Was she doing her school work last minute and simply left it behind? Was she frantically rushing back up the stairs after almost forgetting her monogrammed illuminated hand sanitizer from Justice? No matter the excuse, the result is the same. First Born left something behind that needed to be at school that day. Since the school is less than a half-mile away, of course I would bail her out of trouble, be the hero and take whatever she needed to school for her.

I used to think there was nothing wrong with me doing this for my daughter, but what was she learning from this experience? She was learning that dad was available anytime during the day and if something was forgotten, he could easily retrieve it and gladly drop it off at school. There were no consequences; in fact, I was probably doing her a disservice by taking away her ability to learn from “teachable moments.” My thinking changed the day I read an article about No Rescue Parenting.

The idea behind No Rescue Parenting is making kids responsible for their own actions by parents no longer bailing their kids out of certain situations. This isn’t a sink or swim approach, it begins with first making sure that whatever you want your child to take charge of is age appropriate, and then explaining the general shift in responsibilities from you to them – with reminders and encouragement to help them succeed.

As a parent, my natural response is to protect my child from being punished at school for a missing assignment, but long-term self-sufficiency and personal responsibility is much more important than forgotten homework.

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