Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Too Much Homework

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: My wife is Japanese and I am American. She feels that our children should study three to four hours a day, six to seven days a week. When we go on vacation our children are still expected to study several hours every day. On the summer American break, our ten-year-old is sent to Japan and schooled there.

I tell my wife that play is also important for a child's well-being, but she won't listen. How much studying is too much?

A: You wife's study and homework rules for your kids are unrealistic and seriously detrimental to their cognitive and emotional development. They are not able to develop fully in the face of these daily extreme study demands. I do not mean to sound harsh, but you are stealing your children's childhood from them, forcing them to become academic robots and leaving them no time in their lives to just "be kids." Play is the work of young children. Without free time to explore their own natural curiosities and interests, kids can never realize their potential as independent human beings. By enforcing this punishment-like study regime upon them, even on their vacations, you are parenting through control and intimidation. I am sure that your children would be punished harshly if they expressed any disagreement to your wife about her study demands.

Your letter clearly highlights a major chasm between you and your wife in terms of your parenting philosophies. If this situation is left unchecked, I predict that your kids will begin to exhibit more and more behavioral and emotional problems as they age, resisting your wife's demands. Your marriage may suffer as a result of maintaining this academic schedule for them. You and your wife must seek professional family counseling in order to see how these unrealistic academic expectations are harming your kids. You have been going along with her demands, albeit with heartfelt objections and concerns. Please get some professional help for yourselves as parents before you have to get professional help for your kids' serious mental health problems. Just because they currently are "with the program" and perhaps succeeding academically does not mean that they are not being harmed in many ways. Your wife needs to discover what is driving her unrealistic demands regarding your kids' academic performance.

More on: Expert Advice

Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


10 Best Creative Apps for Kids
Looking for apps that foster creativity? Check out these top-rated art and music apps for kids.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

A New Intergalactic Reading Adventure!
Get your reluctant reader hooked on an irresistible new story, Galactic Hot Dogs! Join the Book 1 reading marathon, and get behind-the-scenes tidbits on the official Galactic Hot Dogs blog. Also, print this cool Galactic Hot Dogs reading log to keep your bookworm excited about reading!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks