What ever happened to 'If you get in trouble at school, you get in trouble at home'?

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What has changed parents so much?

A few years ago I worked on a congressional campaign for a gentleman who had been a public high school teacher for thirty-seven years. Thirty-seven years. He never accepted an administrator position because he didn't want to abandon the classroom. He loved high school students.

He was convinced in thirty-seven years children had not changed all that much. "Kids are kids," he said with his love for them simply expressed in the tone of his voice. "But parents, boy have they ever changed."

I was raised, if you get in trouble at school, you get in trouble at home as well. It didn't really matter what happened. What mattered is that I had not followed the rules, not done what the teacher asked, or in any way, shape or form - gotten in trouble. That was not acceptable. Not at my house.

Not so today. A student gets in trouble at school today and nine times out of ten the parent shows up at the school demanding the teacher be fired. "My child would never hit another child, talk back to the teacher, fail to turn in homework -" You pick a problem. It doesn't matter. What matters is the parent's absolute certainty that their child has been wrongly accused, would never do such a thing, the teacher has it in for him or her, or you name it.

You have to ask yourself, why would a teacher make something up? Are they just lonely for some adult conversation, even if it comes at them in ear-splitting decimals? Are teachers today psychotic, imagining conflict where there is really only peace and harmony? Do people go into this relatively low-paying, stressful occupation just to pick on kids and provoke parents?

I can remember my mother's advice when I became a parent. "Never say 'not my child' because, given the right set of circumstances, my child is just as likely to do something wrong as any other child." Where did that wisdom go?

Somewhere in the process of trying to be the best parents the world has ever seen, parents today seem to have missed the part about children are still children. For all your best efforts they are simply learning their way in the world, and are susceptible to making mistakes, and errors in judgement, and just basically screwing up without it being a reflection on you as a parent.

Nobody is judging your abilities as a parent. A teacher is just letting you know Johnny is not doing his homework, or Susie can't seem to get along with her neighbors without hitting, or Bobby is being disrespectful and the school finds that unacceptable. Why can't so many parents today simply hear these things about their children, accept the fact that kids go through these things, and join with the teacher in helping the child adjust their behavior and move on? Why must so often the parents come back at the teacher loaded for bear and primed for a fight?

But my child would never hit another child because of the stellar parent I am.

He's a seven year old. Sure he would. I would at that age and so would you. Given the right circumstances, any seven-year old would. Can we get the focus off you and your self image and concentrate on helping a perfectly normal seven year-old over this absolutely common hurdle?

But I saw my teenager doing her homework last night, so she must have turned it in. Teacher, you must have lost it. Really? Really? You really think it is more likely that your daughter's teacher can only account for twenty-one book reports and somehow she let your daughter's work slip between the cushions of her couch? You really think that's what happened? A lot can happen between seven o'clock last night when you saw your daughter on the computer doing something and two o'clock this afternoon when the teacher had no book report with her name on it. Are you sure this is a hill you absolutely must die on to clear the besmirched name of you and your daughter?

Now, let me go on the record and admit my children have had teachers who were less than teacher of the year material. Teachers are not perfect. They make mistakes. They are sometimes unfair by the most lenient standard. But they are usually not. In a classroom of a couple of dozen students, they can usually spot one who is struggling or having trouble. If on occasion that turns out to be your child, why do so many parents find it impossible to simply accept the fact that these things happen in the course of raising children?

I'm from the generation that produced the current generation of parents. For the life of me, I can't tell you what we did to make these moms and dads so all fired defensive about their parenting. They certainly remember all my mistakes and don't hestitate to remind me of them at any and all opportunities. Why so many can't hear the slightest criticism of their offspring without taking it as a personal insult, I don't know. But too often they can't.

What is this behavior saying to children about respecting authority? What's going to happen the first time their boss hands them back a sales report and tells them to recheck their numbers? Are they going to be on the phone to mom, expecting her to come down to the office and spring to their defense? You laugh. But I've heard of parents calling college professors to argue a grade their twenty year-old received. I've had new reporters who wouldn't correct errors their editor found wrong in their news articles. They made the same mistakes week after week as if they couldn't be bothered with learning from their mistakes.

Not every negative thing that happens to a child is a bad thing. My daughter was in a magnet fifth grade class with higher than average academic students from around the county. The teacher took each of us parents aside at the first of the year and warned us that our child would be challenged in this class to the point of failing at something. It was part of the purpose of the magnet program because, for the most part, none of these children had ever failed at anything. They needed to learn the inevitablity of not always succeeding and how to deal with it. It was a hard thing for a parent to hear. But it would help them mature. It would help them grow up.

These days, it seems we have too many parents who haven't done that yet themselves.

Disclaimer: I am neither a teacher or a school administrator. I'm a parent of less than perfect children myself. It is not fatal.



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Comments 42 comments

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Boy, howdy! Our parents loved us too, but they did not worship us, or defend us when we were wrong! If I ever got a spanking I did not deserve, it all came out even for the things I got away with.

Dr. Spock should be dug back up and hung for all the misery he caused with his whacky ideas on raising children.


Phoebe Pike 4 years ago

I think it's horrible that parents blame so many teachers now. When I was in school, there was a terrible teacher who would insult you if you got an answer wrong or even tease you for stuttering. We never went running to our parents/guardians about it. We sucked it up and tried to prove them wrong. I got over my stuttering by practicing every night in the mirror. I hated that teacher, but she made my skin thicker. She is still a cruel teacher, but she is the only one in the area with a masters in her subject so the school can't afford to lose her.

Once, it got so bad that I went home crying because the teacher had called me "stupid child" in front of an entire class and told them, "This is what a moron looks like". Parents can often vouche for things like that happening to them. So, if their own child says a teacher was being cruel, they are more prone to believe it. The trick is knowing if your kid is only making excuses or actually has a bad teacher. Those lines blur because we love our kids. We don't want to risk anything when it concerns them. Yet, if we attack every teacher for our kids getting in trouble, it only teaches our children that they can get away with anything.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Oh I would love to have a dollar for every time I had a parent conference for just this reason. I dreaded going home when I was a kid, knowing that the teacher was going to call my parents. It was immediate punishment with no questions asked. Nowadays....I'm of the opinion that today's parents run to the defense of their children because they are feeling a twinge of guilt for not parenting more than they do.

Great hub!


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Phoebe: It is stories like yours that made me wary of writing this hub because there are some horrible teachers out there. But if you can defend teachers, we all should. Congratulations for rising above a difficult situation.

Will: I think I pushed your buttons. Thanks for the immediate feedback. As always.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Phoebe,

While parents of the past did not view the children as faultless angels, they also did not put up with cruel teachers. When the winningest football coach we ever had kicked me in the hallway because I was in his way, the school did not hesitate to fire him.

We were on our way to our second season without a loss, so even I defended the jerk, but he was fired anyway.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Billybuc: You may have hit on something.

I want to say here that there are many, many outstanding parents today who my generation can learn from. But, OMG, where did all these other folks come from?


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

My parents were ones that believed that you were guilty until proven innocent. It doesn't work that way with a lot of parents these days. They enable their children, then when they do get that report turned back from their manager -- they do not know how to handle it (they usually cause trouble and get fired). Thanks for the refreshing reminder that our kids will not break if they make a mistake.


MayG profile image

MayG 4 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

I think there has to be a balance here. Yes, there are parents who refuse to believe their children are capable of doing wrong, but I can also say, as a parent, that teachers often get things wrong! On more than one occasion I have been to the deputy principal about an incident where my son felt he had got in trouble for an incident when he was actually the victim. What did the deputy principal do? He actually LISTENED to my son's side of the story, spoke to other kids about what had happened and actually helped my son with the situation, where in actual fact he was the victim, not the perpetrator. If the classroom teacher had done this in the beginning, my sensitive child would not have been upset about being wrongly accused. If I had just let it go and done nothing, my son would have that sense of injustice seething inside him for goodness-knows how long.

My children know that I will support them if they have really been wrongly treated, but also, if they have misbehaved at school that they deserve to get in trouble for that. Still, I think getting in trouble at school is enough, without having to get in trouble all over again at home for the same thing. Usually a 'Well, that's disappointing, but I'm sure you'll know what to do better next time,' will be enough.

Our kids need to know that we expect them to behave, but also that we've got their back when necessary. Phoebe your story was terrible - I want to make sure my kids always tell me if something goes wrong at school, and one way to ensure that is to accept my kids' flaws and mistakes without going off the deep end.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

MayG - You're right. Of course there has to be a balance. Dealing with disappointment and injustice is part of growing up. It's a wise parent's job to know when to get involved and when to let their child learn to handle it on their own. A lot depends on the age of the child. Wish it was an exact science because every parent has been there.

Teaches12345: Thanks for a voice that has been on both sides of this issue.


SPK5367 profile image

SPK5367 4 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

Your mother was a very wise woman. The idea that "my child would never" has allowed far too many young people to burrow ever deeper into unhealthy behaviors. The best example of that in my childhood was a mother who never believed that her daughter cruelly bullied a few of the girls in our class or that her son was experimenting with drugs. Unfortunately, her son became rather heavily involved in drugs and those few girls continued to suffer daily from her daughter's taunts and ridicule.

When we don't accept that our children are quite capable of making poor choices, then we miss our opportunity to help them before the consequences become tragic.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Wow SPK5367- you said a mouthful or a comment-ful! Well said.


artofadulthood profile image

artofadulthood 4 years ago

Well said Kathleen. I couldn't agree more!


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

artofadulthood: Welcome to my hubs. Thanks for reading and commenting.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Kathleen - What a wonderful, funny, important, balanced, on the mark essay! As a not perfect teacher and a not perfect parent of three not perfect sons I wholeheartedly support and applaud everything you have said. I would say more, but you have already had some excellent comments from various Hubbers. :) Definitely Sharing.


Angela Brummer profile image

Angela Brummer 4 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

Smoke screens and shifting the blame. 99% of the time a parent knows immediately why the child is acting out, lack of attention, problems at home, etc. but,they already have chosen to neglect the problem and it is now easier to shift the blame.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

phdast7: I don't know about the not perfect teacher, but thanks for your enthusiasm. You've got it covered from all sides.

Angela: Spoken like someone who has dealt with this situation more than once. Thanks for commenting and welcome to my hubs.


Angela Brummer profile image

Angela Brummer 4 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

You are so welcome.... GREAT HUBS!


aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 4 years ago from American Southwest

Personally, I think some of the blame should go to the writers of parenting magazines, who tend to imply (and in one case I saw, pretty much said it) "YOUR children's grandparents know only the old, evil ways of treating children, so this is how to tell them to stay away from YOUR children. But make sure you listen to us - we have new theories every year!"


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

You are exactly right, aethelthryth. There is more conflicting information out there for parents today than ever before. And so many make you feel like you are your child's only advocate. They also imply if anything negative happens to your child, you are somehow at fault.


Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

As a parent and a teacher, too everything you said about school, kids and today's parents is completely accurate. I can't tell you how many times I have as a teacher heard not my child. It is just horrible to have to worry every time you call a parent up that they are going to put you on the defensive and blame you, the teacher not their child. I sometimes would actually dread calling a child's parent for this reason. As a parent know, when my kids do go to school, I am going to have to remember this, because truly my kids even at young age are not blameless and aren't always right. Thanks for this article and sharing and voting up.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Janine: You are so ahead of the game. Given the right circumstances, any child will do any thing. You die a little bit with each bad experience, but not every bad experience is a negative experience. Sometimes it is the only way we learn. For the parent, it never gets easier to watch your child go through. Hopefully, there won't be too many of these.


Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

I totally agree and do hope their won't be too many of these, but I can't help from my experience as a middle school teacher to have some prior knowledge to how kids operate at this age level. Thanks again though for all your advice here.


ExpectGreatThings profile image

ExpectGreatThings 4 years ago from Illinois

I really appreciate you taking the time to write this article. And I'm thankful I stumbled upon it months after it was written so I could read the comments as well. You succinctly articulated many thoughts that have been floating around in my mind. Thank you for helping me think through these ideas before it is too late :)

I am a parent of young children. Regularly, I hear my peers belittling their parents for their own problems. So, if I am a mess because of my parents, it follows that, if my children are a mess, it must be my fault. Therefore, my children must be perfect because they are a direct reflection of me. Ridiculous. If I don't accept that they are not perfect, they have a very good chance of growing into entitled and bratty adults.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

ExpectGreatThings: Your handle tells me your children have a lot going for them with you for their Mom. Those growing up years are so wonderful and I'd miss them horribly except for my two grandchildren. I get to relive the fun without all the angst.

Sounds like you have a good idea about what is really good for your children. Share your expectations with them at every age and encourage them to exceed them. Encouragment - not stress - knowing sometimes they'll do great and sometimes they will have hardships. All they need from Mom in either case is limitless love.

Thanks for commenting. I'm glad you found this one too!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

I believe that if the parent pays enough attention to the child and checks that the homework is done before he/she goes to bed, the parent will know more about what is going on. If the parent gets involved in the school and gets to know the teachers they will have a better understand of what really goes on. With so many parents these days, it take up too much of their time to see that the homework is done or to go to their child's activities and meet the teachers. I agree, the children are not the ones that have changed, it is the parents and parents need to spend more time with their children. Great hub! Up and awesome! :)


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

sgbrown: Thanks for taking the time to post your comments to this hub. I hate to come down too hard on parents, but parenting is hard. There are no short cuts.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 3 years ago from Texas

I think media, especially TV and movies, has conditioned the populace to respond to everything with drama. If there is no conflict, there is no plot! If you agree with the teacher and don't defend your child to the death, there's no reason to tune in next week or watch the sequel.

Seriously, by keeping the populace in a constant state of high drama and unrest the media keeps people making changes and buying stuff. Sponsors love it.

Great HUB! Voted up and interesting! :)


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

justmesuzanne: I wonder if there isn't more truth to your comment than one might think at first glance. I do think something is going on that keeps parents on the defensive to a ridiculous degree these days. My wise mother warned me never to say, "Not my child!" before hearing the whole story.

Thanks for your comments and for taking the time to read this hub.


Sooner28 3 years ago

All good writing needs some kind of conflict, whether it be within the person, or without. Sorry I know that was off topic.


carter06 profile image

carter06 3 years ago from Cronulla NSW

Hi Kathleen..this is a really interesting & insightful hub, one that I missed before but just came across..having been a school counsellor in private schools for 11 years I experienced quite a bit of parent interaction.. mostly the parents I worked with only wanted the best for their children as most parents do & were keen to do whatever it took and their were few who fitted the above model..but I always think it important that parents listen to their kids & investigate each situation as in the past teachers got away with too much bullying & other forms of child abuse ( think: catholic school teachers sexual exploitation of students world wide) that has been reduced because parents believe in what their kids are telling them..I think it's good for parents to have a voice & no longer be powerless especially if they are paying school fees but there is def a balance needed..

Great hub, sorry I missed it before..cheers


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

carter06: You are somebody who knows - based on your experience. I don't mean to sound too one sided either. Balance is the key word.


carter06 profile image

carter06 3 years ago from Cronulla NSW

No you didn't @ all Kathleen given we r in the generation of helicopter parents ++it's just that I'm now working again as a child & family therapist & being a parent I feel for the parents & the concerns they have..it's a tough job parenting..cheers


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

carter06: You couldn't be more right. Parenting has always been tough. Often we make it harder than it has to be, and we often don't see the unintended consequences of our actions. Our instinctive protectiveness of our children when they are young sometimes blinds us to their overall development in the process of becoming adults who are responsible for their own actions in life. By middle school I believe part of a child's education includes dealing with conflicts at school on their own. I wonder how following hubbers feel about that?


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

Having worked in a school district for 18 years I saw ALL kinds of parents. I am a parent and grandparents as well. So much of what you've said is 100%. Many parents today will not allow their children to take blame for anything, even after you show them the video of their son cutting the seat belts on the bus, etc. These are the same parents who can't understand what happened when their child gets arrested.

Simple, loving discipline is always needed because, as you've pointed out, no child is perfect. Things happen and kids get in trouble but if parents don't deal with it properly the kids are the ones who ultimately suffer.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

tillsontitan: Another voice of experience heard from. Thanks. It is so hard to see these tendencies in ourselves as parents. But the folks who work with children and parents year after year see these things clearly. All I'm really suggesting is for parents to turn off the "not my child" button ahead of time so when these situations arise, they are prepared to listen and consider what needs to be done for the good of their child. Thanks for contributing to this discussion.


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 21 months ago from Home Sweet Home

nowadays kids and teens are clever, they have two faces, an angel at home but a brat in school.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 21 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Kids have always been that clever. The problem today is, parents are not. My three angels are in their 30s now and with all I'm finding out, I'm so glad I never said, "My child wouldn't do that!" Apparently, yes, they would and they did!


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 16 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Kathleen......I LOVE this! Voted UP & across the board.....

"My child would never do that!!??" Trust me, those words never came from my lips! Loving my sons didn't make me brainless! LOL

My Dad went a bit further when warning me about that comment! He added...."Don't ever point fingers at the kids of others....if you have kids.....remember they're ALL capable of anything!"....Those are true words.

With 4 boys, all healthy, normal kids.....do you think my face was not quite "familiar" at their school?? Ha! I used to joke that people may have thought I was having an affair with the Principal!! LOL

Ahhhh but those days are LONG behind me. Whew. We made it out alive.

Since those days....when my sons & I get together....they happen to mention "things they used to do".......I'm AMAZED at what I did NOT know! I swear they tell these stories just to get a rise from me!

Praise the Heavens.....All is well and no one marked forever! LOL

As for my parenting? I did what I knew, I never let my guard down, I made mistakes and tried harder......and ALWAYS loved them to pieces.

"THEY" tell me that I was a GREAT Mom......I don't question them further. I'm afraid to hear WHY they thought I was great!! LOL

Sharing this!...UP+++++ Tweeted & pinned. Peace, Paula


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 16 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

I'm with you! I don't want to know now what I didn't know then.

After my daughter became a Mom she told me it wasn't as easy as I made it look. ??? When did I ever make it look easy????


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 16 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

I know! Really? Maybe they mistook the dazed & confused look on our faces! We must have looked CALM. "Things sure aren't always what they seem!" LOL


KeithTax profile image

KeithTax 4 months ago from Wisconsin

What happened? Well, the police showed up because you hurt your child's feeling and they put the little guy in foster care and charged the parents with abuse. It is in the news all the time. And then we wonder why kids grow up the way they do.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

KeithTax: My point exactly. Well said.

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