When mom is wrong

My sisters and I have an ongoing group chat and more often than not the texts are about our mother: what she said this time, what she wants one of us do, what she doesn’t want us to do anymore. Don’t get me wrong, we love our mom. She’s one of the strongest, smartest women any of us know. And even when we think she’s saying or doing things that don’t make sense, she’s usually right, but not always.

Both of my sisters live in Northern California, while my parents and I live in Southern California. This week my parents are up north for a visit, and last night this text came in:


Then this:




Theo and Izzy are both just three years old. When I ask them to read me a book, they don’t say, “No, I can’t read yet.” They go run to look for their current favorite book. If I ask them to write something, they start looking around for paper and pens. They already identify as readers and writers. When I saw my sisters’ texts I was filled with dread. Would my mom’s well-meaning actions strip them of their confidence? How can I tell my mom that these worksheets aren’t helpful? Yes, I have over two decades (almost 30!) years of experience as an educator. I have two education-related masters degrees. (Well, that turned out to be more of a brag than I intended.) But she raised three successful daughters.

In just a few days, my mom and dad will say their goodbyes to the little ones and head down the 5 freeway back home. I’ll mull over how to tackle this until then. In the meantime, if you have any advice for a daughter who was brought up under the Confucian principle of “filial piety” feel free to send it my way.

They both wanted to read their books to Dayi (that’s me).

8 thoughts on “When mom is wrong

  1. Parents are well meaning but sometimes… I have no children but I have a niece and nephews. I had an aunt who would watch the kids during the day and she would do school related things with the kids. Some love reading and others read under protest. There’s no telling. Sorry I have no advice for you.

  2. No advice, but lots of empathy! Our youngest didn’t read until well into his 9th year and it drove my mother crazy. We knew what he needed (glasses & eye therapy!), but she had different ideas.

  3. Oh I know that issue – with my kids (now adults) I just to have games that included numbers or letters or colors. I would often say oh we are working on colors now and have lots of markers to play with. I put out matching games with numbers and animals on them. It made my mother feel she was moving her Grandkids forward but the kids only saw the game idea. It is worth a try. Good Luck !
    (and you did not appear to be bragging – congrats on the the two degrees – you did the hard work you should get to brag!)

  4. Share those accomplishments proudly!! Yay you on the masters degrees!

    As far as advice…I have a 19 month old and am only in my 7th year of teaching. All I can say is trust your instinct, do what’s best for your family’s kids, and…. I don’t know, could modeling work? As in, does your mom see how you’ve never used worksheets?

    Good luck to you! It’ll work out in the end. Your kiddos are lucky to have a passionate and knowledgeable village 🙂

  5. Loved this and absolutely commiserate. Our parents are amazing but we have different expertise and are ever evolving in what we know and believe for strong literacy education. My general rule of thumb is to ignore it if it doesn’t become too big of a problem. Let grandparents do their thing. Nod knowingly even if it’s an annoying, inaccurate comment – as long as it’s not harmful. We won’t have them around forever. Sending hugs. Xx

  6. Your mom is so “right” in wanting to create readers & writers – her intent is beautiful and generational. I wonder if there’s a way to embrace her goal but show/share/tell her that you’re taking another path to that same outcome. And invite her to join you to draw but not trace… still joyful, still together time with pen and paper and grandchildren.

  7. Ah, probably not a lot you can do other than vent with your sisters. That’s hard! I remember when my boys were little my MIL had an app on her phone that would scan barcodes on snack foods and give them a grade. So if the boys ate peanut butter crackers, she’d scan the package and read out, “B-” It made me crazy back then but they have no memory of it and now I just laugh about it.

  8. No advice, but a smile and a head shake. All parents are well-meaning, but with grandparents, the bets are off. We lost my wife’s parents early on in our daughters’ lives, but they would have been the little crazier of the grandparent sets. My own parents are a little crazy in their own rights, but yet, they love their grandkids.

    Thank you for sharing your family with us today!

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