If your teenage son or daughter forgot something they needed for school, would you bring it to them?
Well, if your child attends a Catholic High School for Boys in Little Rock, Arkansas, you can forget it.
When the school’s administrators posted a picture of a sign that’s taped to a door in their building, they probably didn’t expect it to go viral – but it did.
Here it is:
It reads, “If you are dropping off your son’s forgotten lunch, books, homework, equipment, etc., please TURN AROUND and exit the building. Your son will learn to problem-solve in your absence.”
That Facebook post has garnered more than 70,000 likes, almost 120,000 shares, thousands of comments … and a healthy amount of debate.
Some parents say they always have brought their kids whatever they needed, no matter what: “Give kids a break!”
Others saw the policy as a wise one that would help the boys become men by helping them learn responsibility – and, yes, problem-solving.
I tend to agree with those that like the policy.
Maybe it’s because of my own unsettled upbringing without a mom or a dad, where I jumped around from home to home and spent time in the foster care system. If those turbulent years taught me anything, it was to be self-reliant – and now that I’m an adult, I’m glad I learned that lesson.
That’s why I’m trying to raise my sons with a bit of “tough love.” Because while everyone forgets something now and again – and it’s not a bad thing to help an otherwise dependable child who’s made one honest mistake – it’s another thing to allow our kids to stroll lackadaisically through life, constantly relying on Mommy and Daddy to save the day.
How will they learn responsibility if we’re constantly bailing them out?
That’s why child psychologist Dr. Kevin Leman, a frequent guest on our broadcast, believes in “Reality Discipline.” By that he means that parents should discipline their kids in a way that helps them accept responsibility and learn accountability for their actions.
And sometimes, that means you give your child the gift of failing.
It’s a more effective way to help your child learn – better than begging or threatening your child to behave. Allowing them to face the consequences of their actions may hurt in the short run – but will greatly benefit your children in the long run.
And, gauging from some of the comments in the Catholic High School thread, that’s exactly what has happened with many of the school’s alumni. (Despite the recent hubbub, the policy has been in place since at least 1972.)
Here’s one comment:
I just graduated from Catholic High and honestly this rule at Catholic probably helped me the most! It taught me to be responsible and to double check myself. I learned to slow down and to be responsible. It also helped me to be humble, it made me admit “I’m not perfect I forget things.” It humbled me where I had to go to a brother and say “hey I messed up and forgot my lunch, can you help me?” This rule helps students come together to help a fellow brother, a lesson I think many in this world need to learn. Kids won’t always have their parents around to bail them out and they’d better learn this in high school before they get to the real world. God bless Catholic High.”
Another student, from the class of 1993, weighed in:
I am forever grateful to them for maintaining standards like the policy expressed in this sign. There is a waiting list for admission to this institution for a reason: they maintain the highest levels of education in the state and the nation at large, resulting in part from their level of commitment to teaching core values like responsibility, accountability, and humility. The school helped teach me and my classmates these important principles by allowing us to face deserved consequences like the men we were only a few years from becoming.
In fact, the school had such an impact on me personally that I was inspired to become a high school teacher myself. I’m currently in my 18th year of teaching at an all-boys Catholic school in New Orleans. The school where I work thankfully has this same policy, and believe me when I assert that such a policy is necessary. The impulse of these “helicopter parents” to rush in and bail out their kids and apologize for them every time they make a mistake is becoming too common, and it does their kids a great disservice. These parents really think they’re helping their kids, so their hearts are most likely in the right place, but they often fail to grasp the damage they cause. […] Great job, Catholic High!
I’d like to hear from you: what do you think about this school’s policy? When your child forgets something and calls you from school, do you bring them the item? Why or why not? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.