Holding your children accountable is the hardest, yet one of the most valuable lessons that we as parents are responsible for teaching our children.
Nothing bothers me more than going to one of my children's schools to visit or meet with a teacher and overhearing a disgruntled parent giving the school staff a hard time over referrals or grades. It is just as upsetting to listen to a friend or acquaintance complain about a child that is consistently getting in fights at school and always having an excuse for why it couldn't be their child's fault.
Being a mother of three and having one child in middle school and one in elementary school, I have heard this far too many times and it still shocks me every time. The reason being is that I pride myself on being a team player with teachers and school staff. Not to say that I've never had a problem with a teacher. I would be lying if I said that.
What I am saying is that I portray my child's teacher and myself as a united front where my kids are concerned at all times. Any question or concern I have will be asked during a private conversation with that teacher or the principal.
Children have not developed the skills to make a judgment call on a situation involving another adult. Once you mark one teacher as the "bad guy," you are putting a target on all of them and they are all now fair game. Your child will manipulate situations and make excuses for themselves every chance they get.
If my child gets a bad grade I don't question the teacher. My child loses his or her privileges at home. I explain that if they are fired for not performing well at work as an adult then they won't be able to afford a phone or cable without any income. Whether or not their boss is a jerk will be irrelevant because the reality is that that excuse will not pay the bills. So, it won't excuse them now to tell me that their teacher is boring or mean.
When my child gets a referral I do not defer blame by asking what the school or another student did wrong. I ask what my child did wrong and what I, as a parent, could do differently to ensure that it never happens again. I also teach my children that we, as individuals, have no control over others' actions - only ours.
The focus should not be what the other person did wrong because that won't change anything. The focus should be on what decisions we could have made differently to change the outcome because there is always something you could have done differently, no matter how wrong the other person is.
As a parent it is also our job to expect that our children will make mistakes and teach them that there are consequences for those mistakes. It is hard to see them struggle and it also sucks on a personal level because when they receive punishment, then we, as the parent, also end up missing out.
We chose to be parents and we chose to take on that responsibility so we also have to hold ourselves accountable as well and be the role models that our children need. I see so many good people who want to be good parents block the hard life lessons that are so important to their child's development. They shield their children from suffering the consequences of their own actions and they think they are doing them a favor but they are actually dooming their own children. How can we expect our children to make good decisions as adults if they have never had to experience first-hand the consequences of the bad choices they made as kids?
Erica Cool is a resident of Sebring.