“The Reason This Mom Won’t Let Her Son Accept a Perfect-Attendance Award” originally appeared on ABC News, and was reprinted with permission.
A U.K. author and mom of three is making waves with a recent parenting decision: Rachel Wright won’t allow 10-year-old son JJ to accept a perfect-attendance award from school.
It may seem cruel on the surface but Wright believes she has good reason.
In a blog post that has now been viewed millions of times, she outlines the four reasons JJ won’t be accepting the award. They vary, ranging from it actually being Wright’s responsibility to get JJ to school each day, not his; to not rewarding “luck.” In other words, JJ is a healthy kid. He’s lucky. Many are not.
Which highlights Wright’s most important point about perfect-attendance awards. From her blog:
“In this family you are not shamed for ill health, vulnerability or weakness. In this house you are not encouraged to spread germs when you are not well. In this house we look after ourselves and the weakest amongst us.
Can you imagine a work place that at the end of each week marked out all the people who hadn’t been sick? Where all the departments with the least number of people off were rewarded – in front of everyone else? It happens in schools all the time.
Can you imagine what kind of atmosphere that would create with people who had days off because of bereavement, mental health problem or chronic conditions?
What on earth are we teaching our kids about value and worth? What are we teaching them about looking out for each other and looking after the sick or disabled in our community?”
Author of the book “The Skies I’m Under,” Wright has two other children. Her son Sam, 11, has cerebral palsy.
“My post was written as a way of communicating our values and thoughts explaining a little of our story and why we think the way we do,” Wright told ABC News. “I was trying to spark a conversation about what 100 percent attendance teaches our children about health, values and those who suffer long term conditions.”
She declined to identify the school but harbors no ill will toward administrators or their policy, explaining that it’s just not right for her family.
For perspective, a number of New York school districts, including the Greater Johnstown School District, for instance, reportedly have done away with annual perfect-attendance awards over the years out of fear that they encourage sick students to come to school where they might infect others.
JJ, she said, was not surprised about his not being able to accept the prize for perfect attendance, which is free admission to an indoor park. “When he was sent the letter saying he was eligible to go, we made plans for an alternative event that was equitable and recognized his hard work through the year rather than his avoidance of getting sick,” Wright told ABC News.
While feedback has been generally supportive, Wright said there are some who think she’s “making a fuss. I would argue that the decision I made was very simple and not making a fuss at all. JJ simply didn’t go to an event. What made this personal decision seem like a ‘big fuss’ was the fact that because it resonated with so many people.”