Be Supportive and Kind to Your Child’s Teacher
By David Reynolds
Your child’s teacher is a governing authority in your child’s life. Under the law a teacher acts in a parent’s stead. This is true whether the teacher is a Sunday school, Christian school, or public school teacher.
While in Australia I picked up a copy of the Australian version of ‘Time’ magazine and read an article entitled “Parents Behaving Badly”. It brought back many sad memories. In my experiences as a principal, most of the parents were a joy and the source of great support, but there were others. At times I wished the children came without parents.
The great concern of most teachers is neither the children nor the low pay, but it is insistent and abusive parent. They are not in the majority, thank God, but they are prevalent enough to be a constant source of stress to teachers. Thirty-three percent of young teachers are leaving the profession in their first three to five years. According to the 2004 MedLife survey of American teachers, they say that parents treat them as adversaries.
As a principal, I had a teacher and a secretary resign over one parent’s abusive behavior. He then got three inches from my face, threatened me and called me a ‘maggot’.
I remember another time when the parents of a little fourth grade girl asked for a conference with us. I asked the counselor to sit in with us. The conference was going well, I thought, when suddenly the mother hauled off and slapped the counselor across the face. I had to jump between them, send the crying counselor out and then call the police. This kind of thing happens every day in our schools in America. During parent-teacher conferences my duty was to stay close to the intercom in case I needed to intervene.
Much of the conflict comes from the high expectations parents have for their children. Parents want their children to have the best and to be the best. When families were larger, parents were more ‘laid-back’. Now, with only one or two children in the family, all of parental pride and energy is focused on the one or two. When parents constantly ‘run interference’ for children, they get in the way of their children becoming self-reliant.
Most parents are sure their children are gifted. (This attitude should be reserved for grandparents only!) Parents are not realistic as to the ability of their children. Most children are average. The pressure is not only on the teacher, but is also on the child to achieve.
When both parents are working there is a lot of guilt of being absent, which causes the parent to attempt to advise, instruct and discipline from a distance.
Would you like to hear some of the names teachers give to some parents?
Here are a few:
1. Hovering Helicopters
These are parents who are always underfoot. They are not helping the teacher with all the children, but rather are always hovering over their own child, making sure they get the best and that no one is disciplining or abusing their child.
2. Drill Sergeants
These parents—mostly fathers—insist their children get high grades and always excel. If they fail to meet these expectations they punish the children and berate the teacher.
3. Monster Parents
These parents are ever lurking and watching for reasons to find fault with the school curriculum, programs and personnel. They find fault, but never help.
4. Dry-Cleaner Parents
They drop off their rambunctious kids and want them all cleaned up and proper by the time they pick them up at the end of the day.
Thank God there are many other parents who are supportive and are true partners in the training of their children. In fact, most schools could never function without them.
Children do belong to the parents and parents do have the responsibility to make sure their child’s teacher is trained, professional and loves children. (Preferably Christian.)
Once this is done the parent must then step back and let the teacher teach. They need to trust the teacher’s judgment to do the right thing unless there is solid evidence to the contrary. People who would never dream of telling their mechanic how to fix their vehicle do not hesitate to tell teachers how to teach their child.
Advice to Parents
Parents, never take the word of a child against his teacher before you know the whole story. If you do, you are teaching your child to question all authority. Always be for the teacher in front of your child. If you have questions, go to the teacher when your child is not around and let the teacher know you support her. Don’t ask the teacher what the other children did or what discipline they got. You cannot be judge and jury from home.
Parents, know that your child can be naughty at times and that it is not a psychiatric disorder. He does not have “Oppositional Defiance Disorder’. He has inherited a problem through you from clear back to Adam. It is called ‘sin’ and it shows itself at times in disobedience and defiance. It is not the other kids and it is not the teacher. It is in your child. What he needs is old-fashioned discipline – and thank the teacher if she is willing to give it to him.
Parents, if your child tells you he is bored, this usually means he has a number of assignments – unfinished. It is true that a few children need more of a challenge, but the majority does not like the assignment and are looking for an excuse to get out of work. This, too, is very human.
Parents, get involved and help the teacher. Be supportive and you will find the teacher will go out of their way to help your child.
I love all children, I appreciate supportive parents and I highly respect the great majority of our teachers.
“This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”