Thursday, March 15, 2007


Note: Kindel, my beloved conservative colleague, friend, and world-class baker, has agreed to post on Thursdays. If you had her chocolate-dipped shortbreads, you'd be tempted to go to her side of the aisle; I'm not kidding. I'm calling her Thursday contribution "Conservative & Proud." Kindel had a little help this week from one of my former, conservative students; you know: that kid who attends school Pennsylvania and LOVES Maureen Dowd

It Takes A Parent To Raise A Child

In the past week The Day has run two articles discussing teen crime, one focused on New London and one on East Lyme. In both cases there was a call for more youth programs to give teens something positive to do with their time. One East Lyme resident claimed that “the town needed to offer more engaging and free activities to keep teenagers out of trouble.” Another said that when he was a kid there were open spaces for “impromptu games” but that development has destroyed these areas. Kids are already overscheduled and the community isn’t responsible for giving kids alternatives to trashing houses and getting into trouble. When are parents going to take responsibility for their kids; better yet, when are kids going to start taking responsibility for themselves? What’s with the coddling?

As a teacher I’m always amazed by the e-mails I get from parents. I have parents of 17 year old honor students who contact me weekly asking for a list of assignments and grades. I have others who ask me for advice when their kids are sullen or rebellious. I am 26 years old; I have no children. Ask me about Shakespeare and I’m fine, that’s my field; ask me about how long your child should be grounded for skipping curfew…not my problem. It seems like society wants to put the blame and responsibility for kids’ poor behavior on anyone but the kids and their families.


As a peer of these “sullen delinquents,” it makes me sick to see teachers submit to these grade-grubbing students and the parents who entitle them. I grew up in Waterford, too, but my parents never called a teacher or wrote an email, yet they were certainly involved with my schooling. They put the onus on me and now I am a better college student for it, not crying to mommy and daddy every time a professor give me anything less than an A. Inflating grades, however, is a whole other issue…perhaps another entry.


Femme Fatale said...

Love the entry and the cookies :) (The cookies are to die for!)

I agree emphatically with everything both SK and FA are saying.

As a teacher and a parent I am often appalled and flummoxed on what I see and hear re: the lack of responsibilities. Some of my students try the "Well, if we were your (biological) kids, you would let us turn it in late/give us a better grade/make a note packet for us/wipe my ass, etc."

My answer: If you were my kids, I could smack some sense into you or send you to military school for you did the things listed in the blog.

My kids aren't perfect but they are grateful and hard-working, and do own their actions. And believe me when I say I put a GREAT deal of effort into their rearing.

I don't do or believe in "drive-thru" parenting.


Maura said...

I'm a very proud progressive but I do agree with many of the points in this post!

As a former public school teacher, I was APPALLED by many of my students' parents. Their staggering sense of entitlement and tendency to enable and excuse the bad habits of their children was truly frightening.

I can't imagine my parents ever questioning a teacher's grade on a paper, demanding that a teacher grant an extension because a student was "too busy with activities" to complete a long-term project on time, blaming "the system" for a student's plagiarism, threatening to sue the school system for assigning a misbehaving student to detention, etc...but these things happened on a REGULAR basis.

Sure, there were decent kids and reasonable parents, but they were sadly outnumbered by much more vociferous parents who wanted to blame every shortcoming on everything and everyone but themselves.

A great school can help a child who suffers from very poor parenting (and sometimes the worst parents are NOT the poorest economically, but the affluent who take no time to parent and blame everyone but themselves when their children are less than berfect), but a school is not meant to be a replacement for parents. Education starts at home. Responsibility starts at home. Disclipline starts at home. Integrity starts at home. Respect for others starts at home. Kindness starts at home. And if those things aren't happening at home, it's pretty difficult for a school to begin to instill those values when parents actively serve to undermine them.

sptmck said...

Thanks, Maura. Believe it or not, I find--as a liberal--that I have A LOT of common ground with my conservative colleagues when it comes to education.

Anonymous said...

As a parent, I would like to offer one comment on the spirit of these posts, and the spirit of teachers in general when they are commenting on parents. The only thing I object to is that while some of the criticisms of parents and their enabling of students is certainly valid, we must be careful not to see any dialogue that is initiated by parents on the behalf of the student as just another case of parents enabling their kids. Teachers and administrators say they want "parent involvement" but if a parent dare to challenge or crriticize a teacher's policy or practice on any level, sometimes it is seen as just another case of parents stepping in where they aren't wanted. Teachers need to learn how to work in partnership with parents - to deal with them in a constructive and positive way as opposed to just dismissing them as just another problem. I have intervened on behalf of my children on a few occasions, only when I think it is truly warranted, and I think there needs to be room for that to take place. I understand sometimes parents go too far in advocating for their kids, but I also think teachers sometimes fail to treat parents with the respect they deserve. The best way to raise a teenager is to allow both the home and the school to work together on that child's behalf.

Kindel said...

I fully agree that a good parent will contact a teacher if there is real issue. What I, however, object to or at least find annoying are parents who put the parenting on the teacher and those who try to micro-manage my classroom.