I’m going to share a POV that might be unpopular: I refuse to get involved with my kids’ homework assignments. I barely remember to ask them if they’ve done their homework, let alone spend any amount of time overseeing their homework. Yet based on recent data, it seems that I may be in the minority on this.

According to a survey by Photomath, an app that helps kids learn math, a whopping 40% of parents have done their child’s homework for them. Not just helped their child, but actually done the homework. I refuse to do this, and I take a hands-off approach to my kids’ homework.

There are a few reasons I don’t get involved in my kids’ homework assignments: 

1. It isn’t my school work

I understand the compulsion to do our kids’ homework assignments. Simply put, we’re desperate. Families are busier than ever. With sports practices, music lessons, and dinner prep taking up the majority of our evenings, there is precious little time to get homework done. Sometimes it just feels impossible. Because it is impossible. So we do whatever we can to make the process easier and quicker. 

As parents, it’s also hard to see our kids struggle. And homework is a struggle. The majority of parents say they’ve bribed their kids to complete homework, with tickets to the movies or theme parks as the most popular incentive. An astonishing 8% of parents in the Photomath survey said they have even offered vacations in exchange for their kids getting homework done. 

Related: A heavy load: Should homework be banned in elementary school?

I understand the desperation and the desire to make things easier for our kids. I really do. But here’s how I look at it: Life is filled with struggle. We aren’t doing our kids any favors by doing their homework for them. I prefer to let my kids practice struggling with challenges—like homework—when the stakes are relatively low so they develop the tools necessary to manage challenges when the stakes are higher.

“Parents want what’s best for their kids,” Jennifer Lee, Chief Growth Officer of Photomath, tells Motherly. “Many want to see their kids succeed and may fear that a future filled with bad grades results in unfavorable consequences, but it’s important to give children the tools they need to build confidence and succeed on their own.”

Lee also points out that dips in performance are normal, and we need to let our children learn to think for themselves. “Our children never get where they need to be if we continue to think for them,” she adds.

By letting my kids handle homework assignments on their own, I’m telling them that I trust them. I believe in them. I have confidence that they can handle it. And in doing so, I hope that I am empowering them and showing them that they can do hard things.  

I also take a hands-off approach to homework so that my kids’ teachers can get an accurate assessment of their knowledge and skills, not my knowledge and skills. Teachers won’t know if a child—or maybe the whole class—is struggling with a subject if parents are completing the assignment for them.

2. I’m terrible at homework

Listen, homework is hard.  Not just for kids but for adults too. According to Photomath, more than 50% of parents say they struggle to understand their child’s homework.

For me, it goes beyond not understanding third-grade math. Even if I do understand the assignment, I’m a terrible teacher. I get impatient. I have trouble breaking things down in a way that helps my kids understand the lesson. Within a few minutes, we’re all crabby, frustrated and sweating. It isn’t good for any of us. So when my kids do need help with homework, they typically go to my husband, who is a wizard when it comes to homework help without doing it for them. 

3. I want my children to understand natural consequences and responsibilities

“Doing homework for a child might lead to short-term benefits, but will ultimately lead to long-term disservice,” Lee says. “Once they’re on their own, without the right tools or knowledge set, their confidence in the classroom often takes a hit and they will come to depend on others.”

If my child forgets to do their homework, they will experience the natural consequences of this (namely, a lower grade or extra time doing the assignment the next day). I want my children to understand the importance of following through with their responsibilities. And the impact of natural consequences will be far more effective if a child can actually experience the consequences of not going homework or not putting forth effort.

We can empower our kids without doing their homework for them

As Lee shares of Photomath’s philosophy, “Learning is a journey where students can evolve and grow.”

Education World suggests parents can provide homework support by setting regular times and locations to do homework, removing distractions, ensuring there are adequate supplies on hand, and providing guidance when needed. Using apps and other at-home learning tools can also help. For instance, when my son was having trouble understanding a math assignment, we found a YouTube channel with older kids explaining the concept. Apps, like Photomath, can also help build confidence by enabling them to learn at their own pace, away from their peers.

Parents can also take a “learn together” approach to homework and their child’s education. My kids are now in middle and high school, learning things that make my head spin. The help I offer now looks a lot like talking to my son in Spanish or researching historical events online to get different perspectives. Most of the time, though, we’re learning the homework assignments together.

And we can also empower our children by letting them fail, as hard as that might be. “Failing is part of any learning process,” Lee says. “Give your child the space to fail and get back up again and maybe ask if they want help, or if they want to try again on their own before stepping in. Making sure your child feels empowered and providing a safe space to stumble and overcome challenges will be critical for their confidence, which in time will build independence in completing assignments.”

Related: You should let your child do homework on their own—here’s why 

Homework assignments feel harder than ever—and our time to do them feels smaller than ever too. But I do believe there is a way to support our children, without taking over. A way to empower our kids, without letting them flail. A way to show them how to do homework, without actually doing it for them. If your child is struggling, consider talking to their teacher. If you never have enough time to get homework done, talk to your child’s teacher about that too. 

Despite our best intentions, eliminating the struggle and doing our kids’ homework assignments for them isn’t helping anyone, including our children.

This article was updated on September 2, 2022.