Would you rather sit there for a year than a gloomy child?

Father: “Yesterday I saw my daughter of thirteen, second grade secondary school, with a friend busy with mattresses and pillows. They placed it on the stairs and then whizzed off while sitting in a sleeping bag. They were actually having math class online at the time. I found myself really enjoying them racing down the stairs in a sleeping bag – the fun seemed more important to me than the math class. But I often give the green light to ‘truancy’. To play games, bake muffins, take a walk along the canal. Sometimes we discuss it in advance and calculate together whether we can get away with it, sometimes I turn a blind eye. She is doing less well at school than she has in herself, but I think it is more important that she gets through this corona period of home education emotionally. Rather sit for a year than a gloomy or lonely child. But is this wise? I also want her to learn that there are obligations and responsibilities.”

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Get the message across clearly

Tischa Neve: “It is nice to take a good look at what your child needs at this time, and how it can have fun in a corona-safe way. But turning a blind eye to truant is not the right strategy. Adolescents look at the short-term gain, your daughter cannot foresee the consequences of a learning disability. Soon her friends will pass and she won’t. In addition, your daughter should not get the feeling that daddy doesn’t really care, that can also affect her attitude in class.

“Parents are needed to keep an eye on the long term, and to get that message across clearly. In order to learn to make sensible decisions for themselves, adolescents need adults who emphatically articulate the pros and cons. So start the conversation: “Say honey, I saw you roaring down the stairs out of the corner of my eye, but what class was this under?” And: ‘Sometimes it’s okay to wear pippilang stockings, but make sure to check which class you’re doing that for.’

“And also good to know: unlike the first lockdown, absence from classes in the second lockdown is seen as compulsory school attendance.”

let it blow

Wim Meeus: “It is very good to look at the emotional well-being of children today. But for happiness in the future, we sometimes have to postpone the happiness in the here and now. Father will have to be stricter, otherwise I’m afraid his daughter will start skipping school more and more.

“Regularly turning a blind eye is called ‘letting go’ in the educational literature (let it be). In addition, there are two other parenting styles: ‘parenting with power’ (authoritarian control) and ‘parenting with authority’ (authoritative control). With ‘raising with power’, father draws up rules without consultation and with ‘raising with authority’, father draws up the rules in consultation.

“The father of this example seems to be somewhere between ‘letting go’ and ‘bringing up with authority’. Research has consistently shown that ‘letting go’ is a parenting style that leads to a poorer development of children. This also applies to ‘educating with power’. ‘Educating with authority’ is therefore preferred.

“That means that father explicitly discusses with his daughter when she can skip school. This is the only way she learns to think about the right balance, preferably before she falls behind in learning.”