Mom Guilt vs. Dad Judgment

How parents see their students’ academic lives differently

While each student who walks in to Huntington is treated as an individual with her/his own strengths and struggles, there are definitely tendencies and similarities that link every child. One of these tendencies is the way in which moms and dads look at their students’ need for help. In short, it’s a difference between mom guilt and dad judgment.

Mom Guilt is Real

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

Given the nature of a mother’s relationship with her child(ren), she tends to be more nurturing, more empathetic, more self-sacrificing, and more affirmative. Because of this, when a child is struggling in school, Mom typically falls on her proverbial sword.

  • “Why didn’t I read more to him?”
  • “I was too easy on her when she was younger.”
  • “If I’d been better about being involved with his homework, he wouldn’t have fallen behind.”
  • “I was a good student… I don’t understand why she is having so much trouble.”
  • “I always struggled in school, and I think he got my genes.”

Dad Judgment is Just as Real

Photo by Derek Owens on Unsplash

Dads, on the other hand, tend to look at their students’ relationship with the real world and see their parental roles as preparing their children for life. As a result, fathers’ assessment of their struggling students is slightly less empathetic.

  • “He’s just lazy.”
  • “If she’d just do the work, she’d be getting better grades.”
  • “He doesn’t even try.”
  • “I’ve taken away her tablet until she brings her grade up.”

The Reality Probably Lies Elsewhere

Both of the typical perspectives are extremes, and neither is the whole truth. If homework time has become a battle, for example, it’s likely not because Mom has failed or that the student is lazy, as Dad believes. Children often complain about homework because they’re struggling or, more typically, have struggled for some time. If Chris complains about doing his math work every night, a major reason for that is probably because he struggles with the concepts and skills he desperately needs.

Let’s say you were asked to build a bookcase, but you didn’t have a good sense of how to measure out the wood, cut it to length, or assemble it. That would end up as a frustrating project, even though people who do possess those skills would find it enjoyable. In the same way, when a student is given a multiplication worksheet, it can be incredibly daunting if her/his addition skills or math facts are lacking. No one–young people especially–enjoys working through an exercise they’re not really prepared for.

There Is a Solution

Fortunately, there is a solution to the core issue. At Huntington, we have students work through a full skill assessment to pinpoint their real struggles in math and reading. By figuring out what’s truly going on, we can create a plan for students that will help them get back on the grade-level track and begin to feel real success. Which also cuts down on the number of guilty moms and judgmental dads!

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