When I was growing up my parents had no idea what I did in school. They simply asked me if I did my homework and looked at my grades when they came on the report card in the mail. As long as I was doing well, they didn't get involved.
But today, school is an interactive process between parents and their children. From helping them with projects to quizzing them for tests, we are an active part of their learning.
Of course, we are much more involved when they are in elementary school. However, as they get older, the courses and requirements become more difficult – sometimes too hard for those of us who haven't done any math without a calculator in 30 years.
"Can I help?" I ask my older daughter as I see a frustrated look on her face while she stares at her computer screen.
"No, you can't. You don't know how to do this," she says with an eye roll.
But sometimes we can help. This week alone my husband helped paint the trifold board and make a game spinner for a middle school history project. He also located an old drum of his to be used in an art project. I designed a toga out of a sheet for a school presentation and also videotaped an interview between my daughter and one of her mentors for another school project.
But one of the things that I am most proud of is that my kids insist on coming up with their own ideas, creating a way to implement them, and making sure we only assist, and not do the work for them. Mostly, I'm responsible for driving them to the craft store 72 times in one week and paying for their supplies.
I remember as a child watching my dad make a giant cell for my school science project out of a piece of plywood. I'm pretty sure he even painted it for me. When I asked him why I couldn't do it myself, he said he didn't have time for that.
So, unlike parenting in the 1970's, we are more involved with our kids in a good way. I like knowing what they're working on, and helping them when I can, even if it's just reviewing something they've written or viewing a finished project and giving suggestions. I want them to be independent learners, but I also think it's important to ask for help when you need it and get advice from those who've gone before you.
I want them to know that I'm here to help. I will not meddle unless they ask, and I will not try to change their ideas. And I definitely won't be doing any math …
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.