Parents Doing School Projects and Overdoing Sports

By Catherine Pearlman

May 28, 2016 4 min read

Dear Family Coach: My daughter works fiercely and independently on her school projects and takes a lot of pride in them. Her best friend's parents do most of her work for her, producing an almost professional-looking result. How do I help my daughter understand that it's better for her to do her own work, even if it isn't quite as pristine? And how do I keep her from feeling down, because while I insist she work on her own, her friend's projects are always a family affair! — Mom Not Doing Projects

Dear Mom: There is a big difference between providing some guidance and doing your child's project. It is unfortunate that your daughter's friend's family doesn't see the value in her doing assignments on her own. These parents are subtly teaching their daughter that she is incapable of doing a good job without assistance. Just watch: In the next few years she'll become more and more helpless, while the parents become increasingly involved in her schoolwork.

Your daughter's independence will serve her very well. Keep letting her do her own work, and praise her ability to work independently. Help her as needed, but don't overstep. Too often, parents get caught up in the end reward (grades, notoriety, etc.) and forget that the journey is the true lesson. She will learn that your role is supportive, not overbearing or critical. Hopefully her teachers will give her grades that reflect her effort and aptitude.

Dear Family Coach: My 9-year-old son really enjoys flag football, but my husband is getting a little carried away with it. He wants him to play in three leagues simultaneously. My son idolizes my husband and generally follows his lead. I'm worried three leagues is too much, but my husband thinks I just don't understand. What do you think? — Apprehensive Mom

Dear Apprehensive: I'm with you. Three leagues means three games and at least three practices a week. Your son can enjoy football without playing constantly. In fact, I bet he would enjoy it more that way. If he plays all the time he will likely be tired, run-down and at risk for injury and burnout.

If you don't believe me (or you want some material to show your husband), take a few minutes to Google Todd Marinovich, former NFL quarterback. Here's a preview: His father crammed football down his throat at a young age, and the result (after his NFL glory was over) was pure hell. I can assure you — 100 percent — that if Todd Marinovich were speaking right now, he'd insist that your son will be better served finding other passions and interests in addition to football, rather than playing in three leagues.

You should talk to your husband so you can resolve this point of contention. Express your concern, and don't back down. That might help him hear you. Compromise may also help. Maybe your son can alternate sports or take time off after the season. Talk to your son to see if there are any other activities he might be interested in pursuing. Find out how he really feels about the idea of nonstop football. My guess is there are other areas he'd also like to explore. Let him.

Dr. Catherine Pearlman, the founder of The Family Coach, LLC, advises parents on all matters of child rearing. To write to Dr. Pearlman, send her an email at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Catherine Pearlman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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