Guest Author - Julixa Newman
There are parents who are blessed when it comes to their children and homework. Some of us can cruise all the way into the high school years, knowing that our little boy or girl easily did everything themselves, only coming to us for the occasional easy-peasy homework question. Then, there are those of us who spent hours at the kitchen table after dinner-those of us who did whatever we could to try to get them to understand the basic concepts of math or sentence formation-praying that our child would absorb enough of the basics to make us proud by high school. Then there are those of us with twins-doubling the outcome options. You can have twice the joy and twice the freedom, or twice the hours at the table frustrated because two children donít understand something that came so easy to you at their age. There is also another possibility-what if one twin gets it and one doesnít??
From the numerous conversations Iíve had with multiple parents regarding this issue, Iíve come away with this: it depends on your kids. Unfortunately, there is no ultimate right answer because your specific boys/girls are individuals with different relationship dynamics. I spoke to a mom who relied on one son to help the other along; which made his time studying unfairly endless, and his brother got to coast along and hear every lesson he ignored at school over and over-at his twin siblings expense. There was also a set of twin girls who were very competitive at school-their mother and father expected the same help, but the social relationship at school entered into it-one simply didnít feel the other was nice enough to deserve her help-and the family fought and suffered because of the whole situation. Then there was the family with the twin boys who had one that was smart and loyal; and spent every waking moment trying to help his brother along-while that brother couldnít have had less interest in improving. The family dynamic was also tested there-since the family spent all their time making the underachiever feel guilty about his brotherís efforts and his own indifference to it.
If your multiples are close-I think it is a wonderful thing to allow one to help the other-to a point. Whether it helps or not, it is unfair to have a child doing excellent in school bear the brunt of their siblings educational shortcomings by serving as their free tutor. That takes away from their own free time-whether they want it or not. There is also the question of their relationship outside of the home-are they close at school? Competitive? Is one jealous of the other? There are several reasons why separate homework areas may be necessary. Just like in a classroom, feelings of resentment can arise toward a sibling and/or parents if they are forced to let others see what they can or cannot do academically. Plus, some children are not quite mature yet; frustration could lead to teasing and/or the destruction of oneís confidence.
All in all, it is ultimately a parentís responsibility to be involved with their childrenís homework-regardless of age. That time spent with the children will not only help them understand assignments, but it can strengthen the bond between parent and child. This can lead to more confidence in the parents (from the child), and perhaps allow the parents to delve deeper into the lives of their children. Besides, every parent wants their children to get along, and setting them up in a frustrating situation side by side will most likely end in resentment by at least one of them. Raising children goes by too fast to not want to help them yourself. Theyíll remember that forever.