Every afternoon, when Estela Southard gets home from her teaching job, she helps her own children with homework.
She has two boys, Jared--a 7th grader and 3rd grader Tyson.
"She's really good with math work," said Tyson.
"She didn't really know what the answer was and then she gave me the wrong answer, so I just went and looked it up online and got the right answer," added Jared.
"Helping with homework was never positive and this was...across the board," said Keith Robinson, an assistant Sociology professor at the University of Texas.
He's also the co-author of some surprising findings regarding parental involvement and their children's academic performance.
"They may feel this parental guilt that if they're not helping in every way, they're not doing a good job as parents," added Robinson.
He and a Duke Sociology professor studied thousands of American families over a period of about 30 years.
"These families reported information on the frequency of their parental involvement. Their racial ethnic background, economic status and we were also able to obtain information on their children's academic outcomes," Robinson said. "Parents who regularly helped with homework, were not, with what we found, were not giving their kids a benefit over parents who did not regularly help with homework. Maybe you learned trigonometry, but maybe it was 20 years ago and perhaps, the way trigonometry is taught is different now, versus how you learned it."
Jared said, "My parents want me to make all A's and I got kind of mad at myself because I didn't want to get a B."
"That was the first report card grade that he's ever gotten a B on," said his mom, Estela.
Robinson said, "We also looked at what would happen when your child brings home inadequate performance. How do you respond?"
"We take away media, his phone, things like that," said Estela.
"What we were surprised to find is that, in most cases, most of these involvement behaviors had no measurable benefit for children's academic outcomes in the form of test scores and grades," Robinson said. "This tended to hurt kids academically, across the board. Ask the child, 'is what I'm doing helping you? How can I improve?'"
"We have a lot of discussions about what to change and how to fix it," added Estela.
Being actively involved in your child's life and asking for parent teacher meetings are not necessarily bad, but according to the study, it won't always result in high academic achievement.
Parents who set the expectation that their kids will go to college, consistently saw a positive impact on their child's test scores, grades and overall academic achievement.