Pushy parents on the sideline of life

July 15, 2006

I know, I know, I said I wasn’t going to write about the parents or the students, because I can rant about them in the staffroom at length.  I was (and still am) worried it could also jeopardize my anonymity, which must be avoided at all costs.

But a general vent about the pushy ones should be safe.  And it’s certainly needed.  It is needed like my car needs a new warrant (i.e. three weeks ago).

See there’s this thing about parents.  They care about their children.  Many of them care too little, but some care to the point of excluding any concern whatsoever about anyone else (except themselves usually). 

It’s like their kids are somehow actual physical parts of them.  They care because they have some kind of merged attachment going on – they actually are their kids, in some warped sense.  I have a theory that these parents were deprived of something in their own childhood – so now they push and push and push to make sure their own child gets everything and then some. 

But it’s bad for the kids – not just the other children, (witness the rather extreme example of Christophe Fauviau who doped his children’s tennis rivals) but also the progeny of the pushy parents.  Because as much as they push me to give their child a better mark, better assignment, better desk, better position on the netball team, better spot in the play, they push their kids too.  They push their offspring, at the same time that they make that child doubt that they could have achieved it for themselves, without Mum or Dad interfering, intervening, to make sure of it all.

And what happens to these parents when they do succeed?  The Dumper has shown pushy parent tendencies – one day she was bragging about the exam success of one of her kids, but it was clear to me that she was actually focused on the 8% of marks he’d missed.  He’d only got 92%.  How disappointing.  I hope she replaced all his sci-fi novels with books on quadratic equations, that’ll learn him.

My irritation with these parents started when I saw how they treat the unfortunate teachers who try to wrangle their children.  I was quite lucky in my first year of teaching not to have any pushy parents in my classes, but I saw how they totally and utterly chewed up and spat out the teachers at parent teacher interviews.  Because if it’s not the child’s fault, it must be the poor schmuck who teaches them who is to blame.  Or perhaps the teacher and the student collude together, with the purely malicious aim of frustrating their caring mother or father?  Either way, things must be put right!  And so out of the handbags come the pepper-spray comments “What could you be doing better to help our child?” and “So you don’t pay Beatrix as much attention because she is smart?” 

Teachers teach and parents parent.  They are complimentary jobs and we should both be focused on helping children to learn and grow up in a way that allows them to achieve their potential.  But that potential should be their choice, not the decision of Mum, Dad, or Mr Johnson who teaches mathematics five days a week.   Sometimes that choice isn’t the one we would make for them, as their parent or as their teacher, but if it is truly their own choice then it is more right than anyone else could make for them.


3 Responses to “Pushy parents on the sideline of life”

  1. Kristy Says:

    Sing it sister! LOL… I really like reading your blog. I’m from Canada… are you teaching right now?… because we are on our summer break.

  2. Ventoletta Says:

    We are just about at the end of a two week break between terms, it’s the middle of winter. The third of four terms here starts on Monday.

    I tend to find that once the days start getting noticeably longer, as they will in the next month, I’ll start feeling better about everything, slowly but surely. We have a summer break of roughly 6 weeks from just before Xmas, although some of that time we do have to go into school (no students though).

    Thanks for the feedback 🙂

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