Tammy Helfrich

Life begins right where you are.

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Your Definition of Responsible Kids

Credit: Creative Commons (Brad_Chaffee)

Credit: Creative Commons (Brad_Chaffee)


What is your definition of a responsible kid?

As a parent, this is something I am continually working to understand. I’ve been pretty responsible for most of my life. Would my mom say I was ALWAYS responsible? Definitely not. But, I have typically made pretty decent decisions.

I am continually learning how to teach this to my boys. Both of my boys are different when it comes to their own responsibility. I could never understand how it was possible that my brother and sister and I were so different until I had my boys. We are definitely ALL wired uniquely. It’s why I love to learn from other parents how they handle certain situations. It helps me grow as a parent, and I am thankful to have friends who have been on the parenting journey ahead of me and are willing to offer advice.

Last night, I posted a question on Facebook. My oldest is in 5th grade, and we are really working with him to take more responsibility when it comes to his homework and other areas. We are not the parents who sit down and do the homework for him. We never have been. But, we do spend a significant amount of time helping him in certain subjects. Last night, I wondered what other parents do in this area. And I’ll be honest, the answers fascinated me. Here’s what I asked:

Parents of 5th graders and up: when did you stop helping your kid with homework and putting the full responsibility on them to get it done? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Here are a few of the answers:

V: I think it depends on the kid and their maturity/responsibility level. J has always been mature beyond his years and I’ve never had to ride him, ever. J2, on the other hand, is in 5th this year and although he knows he has to do it I still have to “micromanage” to make sure it truly gets done. Hope I’m not still doing this with him in high school! Lol! Best of luck!

L: Except for the occasional issue, it needs to happen before middle school because the teachers will no longer inform the parents on a daily basis.  If the child hasn’t internalized the homework discipline yet, it sets the relationship up  for question/lies.  Natural consequences need to be happening so the parent isn’t more emotionally invested than the child in his/her success.  Also, the point at which current education outruns parental knowledge gets earlier every year.  I just found with mine, that the more I was willing to remind/nag, the more it became my investment.  It wasn’t a good preparation for success in the outside world where no one would be more invested in their success than them.  You have to ease them into natural consequences vs. punishment (see Parenting with Love and Logic by Cline and Fay) and they’re sure to test the lines.  I speak from painful experience, not arrogant success

H: Depends on the children.  My 5th grader does everything independently.  If he needs help, he asks.  He has never gotten a B.  He does occasionally need a reading reminder.  My 6th grader needs supervision.  Everyday when she comes home, we write out a to-do list.  She needs constant redirection (although I must say everyday is getting better).  Now if she actually turns in the work on time is another story.

K: Second grade was the point when it fell on ours to do it and turn it in. He had to feel the pressure a couple times when he forgot, but it’s all about learning responsibility. It probably depends on the kid and the school, though…does he need more assistance than others? Are there natural, built-in, felt consequences if he doesn’t do it? Is the teacher using it only to reinforce what has been done in class, or is it new material?  Lots to consider…

J: I’m not a parent but I heard a parent/teacher talk about her daughter’s middle school teacher who encouraged parents to let their kids struggle and not remind or nag them about ( possibly fail) a big assignment because those middle school grades aren’t what matter in the grand scheme…H.S. grades do, but the lessons learned about responsibility in middle school are far better than an A  earned due to parent help. (loved this thought!)

A: Start now…with prompting and practice. Train while price tags are small.

M: You can’t simply dismiss 7 hours of their day with “figure it out for yourself”, regardless of the topic. Be the good parent we all know you already are. Teach them how to think through problems whether they are academics, or integrity and responsibility related. Reign them in when needed and give them space to hang themselves when needed. Most importantly, do what YOU think is best for them. We were all raised differently and are independent, functioning adults. Cross your fingers and hope they still come to you to ask for help and advice when they are 16, 18, 20, 25, 35, 45…

C: When I answered this question for my daughters, it boiled down to me asking myself  – “How did my parents manage my studies?” Bottom line  – my parents didn’t! They cared, they made every resource available but they didn’t micromanage or helicopter —they held me accountable! So my thoughts? NOW is the time to make them responsible! Even when you know they have work and might not make the choice to do it —Don’t intervene! This is the best time for these little people to spread their wings —OR NOT! What better time to learn life lessons AND consequences while in the safety of their parental nest! The REAL WORLD isn’t as kind!

L: I love this string. It’s very helpful to me. I have a middle schooler with an IEP (Aspergers) and I struggle with helping him / making him responsible & letting him fail. Maybe if I don’t rescue him when he doesn’t turn things in, it will be his investment and not mine, and set him up for success in high school. It’s very different with him. My two teenagers did their own work in middle school & asked if they needed help. However, they were also both in gifted ed & superb students. Every kiddo is different.

These comments help me see how other parents work through similar challenges, and it always helps me grow.

I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on this subject. Leave a comment below.

P.S. Thanks to all my Facebook responders! I appreciate it.


Erik Fisher on Beyond the To Do List Part 2 {Podcast Episode #18}


Erik Fisher joins me on the podcast today. He is the host of Beyond the To Do List. It is a great podcast on productivity, and I highly recommend it. He also recently released a book with yesterday’s guest, Jim Woods. It is a book on productivity and goals. I read it over the weekend, and highly recommend it. I’m giving away another free copy today, so be sure to leave a comment to win.

On this episode, we talk about:

  • What prompted him to start Beyond the To Do List
  • His experience with different types of podcasts
  • How he overcame obstacles
  • The best advice he’s heard on his podcast
  • His new book about productivity
  • The myth of progress
  • Learning to say no to things
  • Learning to unplug and have balance, even from good things
  • Drifting through life is NOT a life
  • Making and meeting the goals that matter
  • Sometimes we still feel stuck

You can find Erik’s podcast, Beyond the To Do List on iTunes. You can also check out his new book here, or follow him on Twitter. I’m giving away a free copy, so be sure to leave a comment below.

What advice stuck with you from this episode?


I’d be honored if you’d leave an honest review on iTunes. It takes two minutes, and means the world to me. Thanks!





Jim Woods on Beyond the To Do List {Podcast Episode #17}


Jim Woods joins me on the podcast today. He is a writer, a chocolate chip cookie addict, and an awesome encourager. He is releasing his first ebook, Beyond the To Do List, with Erik Fisher, this week. It is a book about goals and getting things done.

On this episode, we talk about:

  • Drifting along in life
  • Realizing how much you are actually doing
  • Learning to live differently
  • Don’t put your identity in your dream
  • Learn to experiment
  • Don’t try to do it all at once
  • Even good things can be overwhelming
  • Goals can be fuzzy sometimes
  • Set the right goals and achieve those goals
  • You are not alone, even if you feel like it

Leave a comment below for your chance to win a free copy of the book. You can also pick up the book on Amazon here.

You can follow Jim on Twitter, or on his blog here.

What goals are you working on? Share in the comments for your chance to win a free copy.








Kurt Bubna on Epic Grace {Podcast Episode #16}


Kurt Bubna joins me on the podcast today. He is a Pastor, a first time author, and a self-proclaimed “recovering idiot.” His book, Epic Grace, releases today! It is a book about how we all make mistakes, and how grace is always available to us. Kurt has a fun story of how he got published, and I think you will enjoy his practical advice.

On this episode, we talk about:

  • The ReWrite Conference
  • How his book idea started with journaling
  • Learning to listen, learn, and grow
  • How this book process stretched him
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9
  • Simple stories can transform lives
  • We get stuck because we give up

You can find Kurt on Twitter, Facebook, and his website. You can read the first chapter for free by clicking on the book on his website.

I’d love to hear what resonated with you about this episode. Share in the comments below.

YOU are here

Photo from: The Orchard Community

You are here for a reason.

Who you are becoming is so important.

It’s not just about the dream that you have.

It’s about how you are changing, and who you are becoming.

Today’s post is about YOU.

Let me know what you are celebrating.

Let me know what you are frustrated about.

Let me know how I can encourage you, or celebrate with you today.

Ready, set, GO!


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