Q: Our two sons are in the fifth and sixth grades at a private school that just held a father-daughter dance. Now the school has announced that it's putting on a mother-son dance, so as not to leave out the boys. I really don't want to attend this. It's just not my thing. One of our boys says he doesn't really want to go. The other one says he'd like to go but doesn't mind if I don't want to. What are your thoughts?
A: This sounds like so much politically-correct silliness to me. Boys, generally speaking, don't want to be “equal” to girls. They're perfectly content with girls receiving certain privileges they don't receive and enjoying certain girls-only activities. This continues into adulthood, where one finds that men don't mind women having social clubs and business organizations that are gender-exclusive.
I think a mother-son dance is benign (albeit the school's reason for putting it on), but if you don't want to participate, then don't. If your boys had strong feelings about attending, and most of their friends were going to be there, I'd recommend you grin and bear it. Be prepared, however, for the boys to all want to get together on one side of the room and talk about boy stuff.
As an alternative, consider creating your own mother-son experience. Take your boys out to a nice restaurant and teach them proper etiquette, for example. I'm sure you've noticed the world is sorely lacking in young men who know to pull out chairs and open doors for women.
Q: Our 9-year-old (only child) is home-schooled. He starts out well for about one hour, but then the wheels start falling off. He has to constantly be told what to do, but if you don't stand over him, it doesn't get done. My wife is tired of trying to teach a child who seems unwilling to be taught. We can take all of his things away from him, and it doesn't bother him. Suggestions?
A: I am a home-school proponent, but I'm also a realist. Home-schooling is not a one-size-fits-all educational option. Some children accept the responsibility well; others, like your son, do not.
I've said many times in this column that parents should not home-school a child with whom they are having significant discipline issues. Needless to say, oppositional behavior in the home-school context is highly counterproductive. Behavior problems need to be resolved before home-schooling is undertaken.
The other problem here may be that your wife is using a curriculum that requires too much involvement on her part. Micromanagement works no better in a home-school than in any other situation. That quicksand can be avoided by getting plugged into a home-school cooperative where teaching responsibilities are shared among several moms, and the children are taught in a small group.
Your local or state home-school coordinator can help you find a suitable home-school group as well as, if need be, a more functional set of educational materials.
Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his website at www.rosemond.com.