Teaching parents to parent
24 March, 2011
Teaching parents to parent

Four people who have no children of their own decided to have a dinner party and discuss people who do. To be fair, this wasn’t the intended goal of the evening, but somehow the topic got there faster than the first course. A sip of wine and a forkful of Insalata Caprese later, the rather heated debate centered on children and most importantly their parents.
Everyone agrees that if a child is acting out in school, it usually has something

to do with what is going on at home. The parents often take the blame, even though they refuse to take the responsibility, which is far more important than going to the principles office and confessing that it is their fault their son is not a good student. He is disruptive, talks back to the teacher and fights with his classmates. When a suggestion is made that perhaps the parents and not the school have to discipline a child, that child’s father or most likely mother gets defensive and argumentative. It’s not her responsibility to keep her child in line; that’s the teacher job.
And here’s where we come to a problem. When did parents start thinking it wasn’t their job to raise their children? When did it become the job of teachers?
Two of the four dinner guests were teachers. One was a teacher in a public school another in a private school. Both of them teach music. Their view on the subject of discipline was that teachers don’t get paid enough to raise other people’s kids, and babysitting is not a subject a teacher studies for while in a university. A teacher is supposed to teach. Parents are supposed to parent and that requires disciplining their offspring, something that parents themselves seem to lack discipline for.
This has become an age when busy parents don’t have time to deal with unhappy and unruly kids. So they stick them in front of a TV and agree to buy them whatever they want as long as they don’t throw tantrums in malls. There is no system of reward for good behavior, just preemptive gift giving.
The public school teacher spoke of her fifth grade student who was texting her father during the class. Not an easy feat to do while playing a violin. When she missed a whole line of notes, her annoyed teacher demanded she put the phone away. The student said her father was picking her a new iphone up and she wanted do know the exact time he would bring it to her. So you see, she said, this is more important than this class. The teacher was left standing speechless. Not only did she know she would be unable to afford an iphone in the near future, she also started to consider if her student was right about the class not being important
Not to be outdone, the public school teacher told us she once found her student texting during an exam. When she looked at his phone, she saw it was the student’s mother texting him answers. They don’t even bother to come up with cheat sheets anymore, complained the teacher. And it’s true, in my day, we were rather creative with our cheating, and most importantly, if our parents heard about it, well then, death was more welcome than the punishments they dolled out. Now the parents are not only condoning cheating, but actively taking a part in it. How are teachers supposed to fight that they have no back up on the home front?
Is it really had to understand teachers? They get paid less to nothing, they get abuse hurled at them from parents, students and their own administrators. Maybe it is hard to understand them. Who in their right mind would put up with this much crap and not go postal? If I had known the monsters I would be dealing with, said one of the dinner guests, I’d rethink my carrier choice. (by monsters she meant the parents of her students)
Knowledge used to be power. Apparently the Iphone has all the power now.

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