Monday, August 13, 2012

Parents...Help a Teacher Out!

Soft parents aren’t doing their children any favors. That is something I feel very strong about. I realize that there is now a growing movement of parents out there in Canada, America, Japan, etc., who no longer feel it is right to harshly or even mildly set boundaries for or discipline their children. I realize that parents who feel their children should be free to develop any way they want and explore the world as they, the children, see fit, but I think that’s not the best approach.

That is my opinion and I’m sticking to it.  That is my opinion and I am passionate about it.

As someone who has been teaching for more than eleven years and a homeroom teacher for five of those years, I really wish parents would help me out. I wish they would help me out as a teacher. I wish parents around the world would help all teachers out. Throw us a bone! Give us a break. How? By instilling some amount of discipline in your child. I am not suggesting being authoritarian or cruel. I am not asking you to emulate a Marine drill sergeant, but please teach your children what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t. Please teach your children that there are boundaries in the world and often, if we push those boundaries, there may be consequences. Please teach your kids simple things like table manners, how to share with others and say, “thank you.”

You may think I sound silly asking parents to teach such basic rules of living to their little ones, but so many are not in 2012. I see children every day who have no idea even how to be polite or have no clue that there are such things as boundaries.

I can really only speak for things here in Japan, but am told by many that the situation is similar back in my home country of Canada.

Things seem to start at a very young age, parents simply letting their kids have the run of the show. They love their little kings and queens and feel they are harming them or denying them what they deserve if they say, “No.” Little kids running amuck while parents stand back watching them sheepishly or not at all.

A school I worked at would organize family field trips twice a year. Parents would bring their children and teachers would escort them and lead various activities. I would always warn new teachers to be extra vigilant. Although parents were directly told many times that they were, not teachers, responsible for watching their own children, many if not most didn’t. It became a social outing for them and many of the mothers would just gather around, chat, giggle and not watch their kids. Teachers had to work over time chasing around kids and shocked to have a peek into the world of “non discipline” their students were used to.

Even now, as a teacher and a parent, I am so stunned, but at the same time cynically accepting when I see groups of mothers standing around chatting at a playground or on their smart phones as their children run around wildly, playing behind or under parked cars and hurting other children unchecked.
Being soft doesn’t work folks. When you allow your kids to do whatever it is they want, you are sending them all the wrong messages. You are instilling them with a sense of false entitlement. Many kids who were spoiled in an environment with no discipline tend to become those students teachers find all too painful too teach; kids who come to school having no concept of rules. Kids who feel they should get whatever they want, whenever they want it.

I suppose they will grow up to be the sort of people who feel they are entitled to starting salaries of $70, 000 a year walking out of university. That’s not a good thing.

This is a rather ranty post, but that’s ok. I feel strong about the topic and it irks me on a daily basis when I watch people not watch their kids out on the playground. It irks me when I see parents allow their kids to run through a restaurant wildly and say nothing while other diners are being bothered. I get irked when I meet parents who have never taught their children basic life skills and then turn around and get angry with teachers because their child is behind others.

People, get it together, in the long run, your kids will be stronger for it and be more successful as students and young people.

I’m not suggesting being a “hard ass” or whacking your kids around. Too much discipline and too many rules can often be just as detrimental as none at all. I suppose that can at times even be worse.
Parents, be firm with your kids. You are the adults, the caregivers and ultimately the bosses of the relationship. You have a big responsibility. Your job is to get your little one ready for the real world once they leave the nest. Teaching your kids how the real world really works, in a kind and thoughtful way is a good thing. Teaching them that they are the kings and queens of the world, maybe not such a great thing.

My message to folks out there, and you may disagree (but that’s ok cause this is my platform), is to simply do a few things:

 1. Teach your children to respect adults.

2. Teach your kids to respect teachers.

3. Respect teachers yourself (they know more about children than you do).

4. Teach your kids rules and set consequences if they break those rules.     

5. Stick to number 4.

6. Teach your children to share.

7. Teach your children to work hard.

8. Watch your children and keep them safe.

9. Take the advice of teachers. They aren’t attacking you or your child when they address issues. They want to help you and your child.

10. Love your kids.

You can follow my other rants on Twitter: @jlandkev


Anonymous said...

It is disheartening to see so many parents take such an inactive role.

I often have the same opinion, but I'm one of those guys who criticizes but has no kids of his own.

Gaijin Wife said...

Totally in agreement with this post. I have various bits of teaching experience and now teach 19 kids a week and have had a couple of kids who I really wonder how they act at home and what their parents are doing. I hope I'm doing a good job as a mother, to have children that respect authority, are nice to their peers and know how to work hard. The only bit I would argue on is point 3 - I think of course its important to respect teachers - if the teacher has earned that respect. I have seen some Japanese teachers in my time who should not be teaching. Teachers, the good ones, do know a lot about children but knowing more than a good parent would be impossible. Parents who choose not to know as much about their child as the child's teacher are really just missing out on so much.


Kevin O said...

@Gaijin Wife
You are very true, there are definitely some teachers out there who do not deserve respect. I had a few like that in my years as a student. Seems these days however, so many people thing negatively of all teachers.

Kazuki said...

I mostly agree with what Kevin says here, but, I also have to agree with Gaijin Wife as well. Some of my teachers when I was in school were aweful, some discipline students physically (not in a good way), some showed up school strong perfume called "alcohol" and etc...

My mother runs Gakudo hoiku (after school care centre? ) in my hometown in Japan. She often tells me that the quality of kids is gotten worse because not only she has to look after kids' homework, she also teach them "basic" stuff. She was so disappointed that she had to teach some of the kids when to use the words like "Ohayo" "Konnichiwa". She purchased the analog clock on the wall so that she can teach them how to read it. But the most surprising thing is the reactions that she received from their parents, they thinks something "magical" happened!

In reality, we need a mandatory course "parenting 101" somewhere during the public education.

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