A second-grade teacher writes: “I teach in a very competitive school where parents have developed a ‘mob mentality’ for bullying administrators and teachers. They have gone beyond helicopter parenting to Apache Blackhawk parenting.”
That’s the report, by the way, of teachers and administrators all over the country. Whether they work in public or private schools, the biggest problem they have is with parents who can’t let their children be responsible for themselves. They help their kids with homework, often downright doing it for them; they help their kids study for tests; and they demand of educators that their kids’ school experience be immaculate. I don’t believe that pouring more money into education has worked or is going to work, but I do believe that teachers should be duly compensated for putting up with this garbage.
With a nod to the rare exception, parents in the 1960s and before did not do any of the above. No matter how unfair a teacher might have been, my parents would never have intervened on my behalf at school. I know this for a fact because one of my elementary teachers was emotionally unsuited to her job and for whatever reason I became one of her targets. I complained to my parents. They told me that I needed to learn how to stay out of her crosshairs, that she was not the last person of that sort I was going to have to deal with in my life. They made it clear that they were not going to intervene on my behalf. I was not at all pleased with the position they took, but I subsequently figured out how to stay out of her crosshairs.
Back in those halcyon days, the overwhelming majority of parents were focused on important, lasting issues. They were determined to raise sturdy kids who grew up to be good neighbors, responsible citizens. I often tell my audiences that my parents did not care what grades I made in school; they only cared that I did my best and made it perfectly clear that I’d better clear that bar, always. From what I gather, they were typical in that regard. The issue was a child’s character, not his or her accomplishments.
Attendance at high school reunions should be mandatory because that’s where one discovers, or should, that grades don’t really matter that much. Sometimes, the really successful person didn’t make outstanding grades and the person who made outstanding grades has led a less-than-outstanding life. One comes away from a high school reunion less impressed with a former classmate’s accomplishments than with how he or she treats other people. You want to reconnect not because the individual in question is a high-dollar CEO but because he or she is a genuinely nice person.
Parents who descend on their kids’ schools with torches and pitchforks have lost a proper perspective, if they ever had one in the first place. The raising of a child should be a joy. They’re having no fun at all. They’re all stressed out, nearly all of the time, and they just don’t get it. They are their own worst enemies.
Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents' questions at his website, www.parentguru.com.