Homework and Family

Homework Time Doesn't Have to be Argument Time

Family Time, Homework Time
Family Time, Homework Time. E+/Getty Images

Scene: You've had a long day at school and band practice. You get home and find dinner in the oven. You eat, sit down to watch your favorite show, and then relax for a few minutes to play a game or go over your emails. The first thing you know, Mom knocks on your door to ask if your homework is done. Uh-oh. It's nine o'clock and you haven't even started.

Does this sound familiar?

This scene plays itself out repeatedly in homes all over the world.

Several things are going on, but the biggest problem is miscommunication between parents and students. The miscommunication leads to misunderstanding, stress, and turmoil.

It might help to take a look at the other side of the scene for once, and hopefully understand the things that go through your parents' minds when they seem to go crazy at homework time.

Parents are concerned about your success. It sounds simple enough, but students don't always realize how much parents can stress out about this. Whenever parents see a small sign of potential failure (like missing a homework assignment), they start fretting, unconsciously or consciously, about its potential to become a big failure.

It's not your success or failure in this particular homework assignment that really makes parents crazy, but your potential success or failure in life.

It might sound a little dramatic, but in a parent's mind, by missing a homework assignment, you might be jeopardizing a grade on your report card.

A less than perfect grade report might impact your college choices.

Remember: Parents think about the big picture!

It's a parent's job to teach you to be responsible. When your mom sees an unmade bed, unfinished homework, and unattended household chores, she sees a teen who's not behaving responsibly.

That's frightening, since Mom thinks it reflects on your potential success in life.

Parents are household managers. It's not easy running a household, especially for parents who work outside the home. For a single parent who works outside the home, let's just say it's nearly impossible to keep a household running smoothly.

Nonetheless, it's a parent's job to make sure everybody is fed, things and people are relatively clean, and everyone takes care of their own personal responsibilities. Many moms can't even get to sleep unless all the chores are done and kids are in bed.

If Mom has had a long day at work, comes home to cook and clean, bathes a kid or two, and finally thinks she can relax because the day's work is done, then it can be a real blow to find out that you still have a few hours of homework to do. See how it's way more than homework going on?

You see, it's never just about the single assignment. It's also about managing the house. Something isn't taken care of. Her household seems out of control, despite all her hard work.

On the other hand, communication has to go both ways. Parents don't always understand how stressful it is to be a high school student, either. Sometimes parents forget.

Boyfriend or girlfriend problems can be incredibly traumatic for teens; bullying can be an issue; pressure to make a sports team is an issue; and sometimes teachers can be a problem. These things get less apparent after ten or twenty years, but in truth, they are incredibly difficult to deal with. Communicate!

In addition to the traditional stresses for teens, technology has changed the way we all live. Today's teens are expected to keep up with each other when it comes to cell phones, computer-based communications, and other technological issues. That side of a teen's life swallows up time and energy.

Teens have all sorts of social problems and daily stresses, and parents don't always realize that these things can interfere with homework.

So what can you do?

Communicate, communicate, communicate. If you're reading this article, you're off to a good start.

Now you might understand that the argument that erupts at homework time is often, in fact, about much more than one assignment.

Have you ever heard the claim that families that eat dinner together communicate better and therefore and have fewer problems? Did you believe that or did it sound a little simplistic? The truth is, it's not about the eating at dinnertime--it's about the talking and the togetherness.

If you eat together as a family, you're all likely to bring up things that are happening in your lives. If you talk at dinnertime, your mom may not be shocked next time your homework is not done by nine o'clock, and you might understand if she hits the roof about something that seems small to you.

Even if you can't eat dinner together, you should try to have the dinner conversation and understand each other a little better.

Want to read more about communication? Find out how a Homework Contract could improve your life.

Further reading:

Study Skills

Time Management 

Remembering Assignments