Should parents consider NOT going on field trips?

field trip busIt’s something I’ve done since my oldest was first in school: volunteer to be a driver / chaperone for school field trips. Whether it’s to the pumpkin patch in October or a farm further afield, or even a museum in far-distant Denver, I really enjoy the experience and find it’s great fun to see my child “in their natural element” interacting with their peers.
The fact that the field trips are often fun too — like one next week to the Gem and Mineral Show in Denver — is a nice bonus, and I always drag my camera along to take pics that I subsequently share with the other parents.

Thing is, all children go through phases when they’re sensitive to being embarrassed by the presence (nay, the existence!) of their parents. I guess there’s a sense that if they were only produced in a research laboratory and didn’t actually have parents, then they wouldn’t be embarrassed by their parents. I dunno, I went through it too (sorry Dad).

What struck me this morning, however, as I contemplated the fact that I’ll be driving a carload of 9th graders to a week-long field trip a few hours from town on Monday, then taking a car full of 6th graders to the aforementioned Gem and Mineral Show is this:

Should parents skip field trips to avoid embarrassing their children?

It’s not that my children have asked me not to participate either, but I know my son, at least, is easily embarrassed by his Dad who makes jokes with the other kids, sings snatches of songs on the radio, and even occasionally gripes about other drivers on the road. From what I can glean, the other kids don’t find me too objectionable (relative to the fact that I am an adult and a parent, something that I think is a terminal ailment at this point).

Still, I know that on the longer class trips that my kids attend, I have consciously avoided signing up because I feel like those trips away from home and family are great experiences for my kids, a proverbial toe-in-the-water of when they split and create their own life, standing on their own two feet, without me around to pay the phone bill or fix a leaky faucet.

Hence my question above. If you’re reading this, you probably have kids and they probably go on field trips. Do you tag along on as many as you possible can, do you consciously select just a few prime trips each year, or do you let your child / children have time with the teacher and other parents on the job, while you relish the freedom of that time off?

One comment on “Should parents consider NOT going on field trips?

  1. I enjoyed a few field trips with my kids in the early elementary school days. But I tended to spread out my presence in other ways too, so I didn’t feel the need to go on every outing. For example, coaching roller hockey, assisting at football practices, and serving as both my boys’ Cub Scout Den leader seems to have given them the comfort they needed and, I like to think, made them proud that it was their dad who committed time to them and their friends.
    Now, I DO know of a few parents who have not only gone on every field trip, but also spend every free second volunteering in the school on normal days (even today in the 10th grade)! My opinion is that hovering over as much of your child’s school life as possible is going way overboard. Nothing against volunteering mind you, but I think it casts an unnecessary shadow over “the kid whose mom is always at school” as well as the parent themselves.
    So I think what you say about picking and choosing your involvement is really the key here. For instance, I would certainly go on the science field trips where I might have a bit of knowledge to add to the experience, but I would let another parent shine on a tour of an art museum where my brain holds very little to add to the tour.

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