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Parents in Denial March 12, 2013

Posted by alwaysjan in Parenting, Teaching.
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Saturday morning I woke up with my stomach churning over a conversation I’d had with a parent after school. No harsh words were exchanged (unlike my first year of teaching when a parent flipped me off in front of a class of second graders), but the parent looked at me incredulously when I said her child was still having the same issues as he had on Day One. Another Parent in Denial

But there’s something I need to come clean about. Before I became a teacher 10 years ago, I, too, was a bonafide Parent in Denial. If only I’d been a teacher before I became a parent, I wouldn’t have been such a pushover when it came to my sons’ lame-o excuses. My boys were angels!  So any teacher who tried to tell me otherwise was obviously not used to dealing with a creative genius or a real boy.

How bad was I? When my younger son was accused of throwing an apple across the lunch area outside and hitting the custodian in the head, I insisted that it couldn’t have been him because I’d seen him throw in Little League and his aim wasn’t that good!  And I believed this with all my heart.

The “apple” incident was just one of many. There were phone calls. Meetings with tribunals of teachers. Suspensions. Sometimes the police were involved.

My sons are now 30 and 26 and they are decent, hardworking young men whom I’m now very proud of.  So, imagine when several years ago my accused “apple thrower” blurted out, “Mom, you know all that stuff they said I did in middle and high school?…well, I did it all.”

By then I was teaching and I had to hang my head with shame. To think I had been THAT parent. Not always, but there were a couple of rough years when I’d questioned a teacher’s motivation, competence, and even demanded that my son be changed to another class. Because of me, there were some teachers who woke up on Saturday morning with their stomachs churning. Karma?

A colleague posted What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents on Facebook. It was just what I needed to read on Saturday morning.  At a time when the average new teacher leaves the profession after only 4.5 years and “parent disrespect” is cited as one of the leading reasons, I think this is timely indeed. Read it and see what you think.

 

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1. Beverly Parker - March 12, 2013

I was the opposite with my kids. All the teachers thought they were such great kids and i’d say, “oh what have they done now! They’re gonna be the death of me!” i’m the one who asked to have them tested for special ed. Several teachers replied in surprise that they had thought my daughter was GATE! I got worse when i became a teacher. I got harder on them. They turned out to be great people in spite of me.

Beverly,
It’s amazing how when you give them love, but also have high expectations, kids turn out just fine. :) Jan

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2. Lynette d'Arty-Cross - March 12, 2013

Great article – thanks for sharing, and I hope that you are having a better week!

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3. Richard - March 12, 2013

This made me laugh out loud, remembering the times when our perfect son was singled out by those prejudiced teachers. Too bad for those educators we didn’t wake up years earlier. Yes, parents need to step out of the bubble and face reality for the sake of their children – listen to those teachers who usually see them in a different environment acting out amongst their peers. Those little angels turn out to be real little manipulators. I suppose it’s all part of growing up and surviving.

Richard,
I should have mentioned that my/our older son never did like school – especially after third grade. I believe he takes after his father who always had a problem with authority. My/our younger son has had to deal with serious OCD and has a risk-taking personality that made him the class clown, but also got him in a lot of trouble. Always, Jan

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4. czbz - March 12, 2013

Speaking of leaving the profession, one of my nieces became a high school English teacher. The first school nearly ran her out of the profession. She told me horror tales about parents that were unbelievable to me! My generation was usually respectful of the teacher’s authority. Very different from what’s going on in schools today. I might have disagreed with a teacher’s approach in working with my ADD daughter, BUT I didn’t try to run the teacher out of town or sue her. I picked up where the teacher left off and we worked together.

My niece is teaching in another state now and she still has problems with parents. It can even be scary for her when a Dad shakes his big fist in her face. wow. She keeps me spell bound with her stories. I think she’s been teaching almost ten years—swearing to leave the profession and not because she doesn’t love teaching. She can’t deal with parental criticism. If the parents don’t support the teachers, of course the students don’t either!! “My Mom says I don’t have to do that!”

Off topic a little however, I’m on a roll. What shocked me most of all was her fear of being accused of sexual abuse. She has to be very cautious about any touching or any hint of seduction. She’s a beautiful woman teaching young high school men who use ‘harassment’ to control the teacher. Is she making this up? I gave her my best skeptical eyeball but she didn’t flinch. Is it really that bad???????

CZBZ,
Regarding your niece. I really feel for her situation because when you’re a young, or even a not-so-young woman teaching teenagers, all sorts of “jokes” are made about how boys in your class can raise their grade. The Teacher’s Pet takes on a whole new meaning. Of course, this comes from real (although isolated) incidents that have gotten lots of media attention. But this has left teachers walking on eggshells. It’s hard to teach while also watching your back, but that’s what it has come to. Jan

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5. But mine are perfect. - March 13, 2013

The first year my mom taught, she had a parent back her up against a wall during parent teacher conference. He then hit her across the face. She learned quick to be MUCH more careful about how she spoke about her students. Parents are unbelievable.

About a year later she had a student whose parents were starving him since he had gotten a few B’s on his report card (in 5th grade!). Needless to say, he got all A’s from then on. Sometimes it works the other way too, I guess.

I don’t put anything past parents these days, but I kinda think we’re all to blame. We’re raising a whole generation of narcissistic kids who expect awards and kudos for simply being there. It’s sad. The “feel good” self esteem building theory that our current childrearing model is based on has serious repercussions that we’ll be seeing for years to come. The “my child is wonderful and perfect” thing comes right from that too.

And I’m with you 100%. I’ve been on those field trips too, and I’m always amazed at the behavior that the kids try to get away with. Clearly no one at home ever says “No” to them EVER.

But Mine are Perfect,
Yes, I’ve got some stories though it sounds like your mother and I could go toe to toe. Finally you’ve managed to put “Narcissism” and “Kids” in the same sentence – the two subjects I blog about most! It’s only natural for parents to want the best for their kids and to go to bat for them. But then I think of those mothers who with a child on death row and who swear he’s innocent despite all of those bodies in the freezer. Thanks for your support. Kids are a work in progress and together we can, “Make sure schooling doesn’t get in the way of their education.” I’m taking liberty with Mark Twain’s words, but you get the drift. :)Jan

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6. shoutabyss - March 14, 2013

When I used to drive 18-wheelers I’d often curse other drivers and wish the law required all drivers to qualify in 18-wheelers before issuing class C licenses. This is a natural feeling. Perspective and shared experience can be a wonderful bridge to real empathy. Short of that we have to have some natural ability. Sadly most of us are deficient in that way.

You weren’t a parent in denial. You were just practicing your logic skills. Your argument sounds like something Mr. Spock might have said! “Illogical. The child does not throw that well.” BTW, Spock doesn’t like redshirting either, but that’s another story. :)

Being flipped off by a parent in front of class? Wow. You win. My troubles seem trivial now. Some people have absolutely no shame, I guess. And I feel pretty sure that if I heard what that incident was really about I’d roll my eyes.

The fact that a small sliver of human behavior has now earned the name “parental disrespect” speaks volumes. I’ll be looking for it in the next edition of the DSM.

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7. Catherine Sherman - March 14, 2013

I have some regrets about my parenting regarding my kids’ schooling — Not because I was a “hands on” parents with the teachers, but that I was “hands off” and didn’t interact much with the teachers. I saw some “brown nosing” parents and didn’t want to be like that, but perhaps I should have made more of an effort to find out the problems my kids were having. No news was good news, until the grades came out and by then a lot of time had been wasted.

My son had a hard time with being confined in a desk. He was an interactive kid, emphasis on the active. He was always talking to his neighbors in the classroom. In second grade, he got in trouble a lot for talking and he also broke his arm while skate boarding and couldn’t write.(He broke his arm right after I told him to stop skateboarding off the low deck because he would break his arm.) I was annoyed that the teacher flunked his penmanship! How can you grade a kid whose writing arm is in a cast? But I didn’t talk with this teacher very much, even about this.

I found out that one problem he was having in second grade that contributed to his misbehavior was that he couldn’t see the board or what the teacher was doing. He went out of his way to hide that he had poor vision because he didn’t want to wear glasses and look like a geek. Our first clue was that he couldn’t tell us what the score was at my daughter’s basketball game. He made all sorts of excuses, such as someone was blocking his vision, but the truth was he couldn’t focus on the score. When we finally took him to get his eyes checked, he had terrible vision. He did improve greatly when he got glasses. Had I spent some time with the teacher I might have figured this out more quickly.

I’m in a car pool with a friend in book club who is a teacher of middle schoolers so we have a lot of time to talk. When she talks about teaching, it’s almost always about the parents and how difficult they are. She says that because she could retire when she wants, it makes it easier to stand up to these parent bullies. A recent case was a stepfather who told her in a bullying fashion that she was going to give her son an A for a poorly done paper. She said “absolutely not!” She had flunked the paper. She said she’d given the boy many chances to work on the paper. She said that the boy is frequently gone on week-long vacations during school and that the two sets of parents don’t seem to care that he is missing out on a lot of school.

I know that you are an amazing teacher and that you are widely recognized for that, but it just takes one or two really nasty people to cast a pall. Don’t listen to those rotten jerks! I know that’s hard because you care so much for your students.

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