Family and the Single Dad: Why I can’t wait till summer vacation!

When did public schools around the country start giving standardized tests for 3rd and 4th grade? At what point did homework seem to consume so much of a parent’s time? Who does Algebra at the age of 10? Did I miss the memo for these life changes? Apparently I did. Having kids at my age has made me reflect on how involved my parents were with my school work when I was the same age as my own kids. I am glad that I have half a brain to figure out the correct answers. Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader? Uh, well, probably not so much.

I have always said if I had my kids when I was in my twenties I would have had more energy and time; however, I have found myself with more wisdom and money by having kids in my forties. It’s an interesting exchange of priorities – time and energy versus money and wisdom. Now I have to add education into the mix. I might have had a fresher outlook for schooling in my twenties – thus able to focus better, help my children with their school work, and understand the problems presented. My current attributes are patience, empathy, and compassion. Life is always filled with irony and decisions, and homework in my household has not escaped this dilemma.

I am not in the same household as my children’s mother making it more challenging to assist in the duties of homework. This shared responsibility is a bit more taxing today versus what I remember as I grew up. With the divorce rates pushing nearly 60% I wonder how many of us parents struggle to deal with this changing landscape of education. I’m happy we did not go down the road of homeschooling because I can only imagine the challenges that present themselves as a person goes through a divorce. It seems an impossible task. Time commitments and dedication to my child’s education is exacerbated because of the separation but it is necessary.

My own parents were fairly bright individuals but I honestly don’t recall sitting and going over my homework assignments with them. I will have to ask them. I do remember they were very busy and there was very little time to assist me and my many siblings with much of anything – coming from a big family will do this. I suppose a smaller family unit might have a different dynamic when it comes to educating the youth; but I have a small family and I still struggle with it. There is a lot of homework each week, my kids hate doing homework, I hate doing homework, and it is more complex. Algebra is being introduced in some elementary schools, Common Core math has been introduced, and ISAT scores are ultra-competitive. The educational environment today is not for the weak-of-mind.

I feel bad for those young single parents that do not have the academic background to assist their children. Unfortunately, these children will find themselves behind the eight-ball as they grow. And it isn’t keeping up with kids during these growing periods. My own struggles are evident when I assist my kids and I have to hide it best I can. My kids need to believe that I can answer any question. This helps with their confidence. Occasionally I have to punt the question to God and tell them to wait for that answer. (“Daddy, when does infinity end?” “Daddy, how was God born?”) For the most part, I am able to plow through the difficult school subjects and provide them with the appropriate answers. I do fear my involvement will diminish as they progress in grades. At some point I will have to ask myself “am I smarter than a 5th grader?” Sigh, I already know that answer.

Daddy Dan

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