Last week I gave my students a timed math assignment with addition problems. Nothing too difficult, nothing they haven’t been practicing for months. Most of my students sailed through it with flying colors, but like most classes, there will always be the few who struggle. One child in particular answered only 1 out of 20 correctly.
The next day there was a note from the child’s mother in her folder. “My daughter was very upset about the test you gave. She said that your instructions were to add 1 to everything. So she did, and if you notice she answered them all correctly when adding one to the last number of each problem.” There was more, and I’m paraphrasing, but you get the gist. This mother was trying to tell me that I should have given her daughter a perfect score because she was following the directions she thought she heard. I’m sorry, but 6 + 2 does not equal 3. There’s no room for interpretation. It’s just wrong.
This note saddened me because not only was a parent making excuses for her child, but this parent also happens to be a teacher herself. She should know better. But what really got my blood boiling was what this student said to me when I called her up to my desk for our daily reading. She asked if I read her mother’s note, and I said yes. Then she said, “My mom said I got them all right.”
Another example. I watched a parent rock her 6-year-old son like a baby for 20 minutes in the school office after he got into so much trouble she had to come and pick him up. Even worse, instead of reprimanding him, she said (loudly enough for everyone in the office to hear): “I know son, I don’t like that rule either but they won’t change it.”
I just can’t wrap my head around these parents. In my opinion, being a helicopter parent does nothing but set children up for failure and teach them to be selfish and needy. It’s not teaching them to be self-sufficient, independent, confident, responsible human beings who can make their own decisions and be accountable for those decisions. Isn’t that what we want for our children?
I’m far from the perfect parent. I don’t know all the answers. I make a lot of mistakes. And I’m sure there are aspects of my parenting style that others would criticize. But my children know it’s ok not to be perfect. They know if they get in trouble at school, they’ll be in trouble at home. They know that it’s their responsibility to clean their rooms, and when those rooms are clean, a statue will not be erected in their honor. They know they will not get a toy every time we go to Wal-Mart. They know it’s just as important for them to feel proud of themselves for an accomplishment as it is for me to be proud of them. They know what the word independent means. And most importantly, they know I will always be there for them regardless of whether or not I’m hovering over them.