... It’s the parents I blame.
At least once a week, one of the red top papers carries a story about some kid in some school who’s had draconian measures taken against him for some minor infringement or other of some ridiculous school policy.
The story is generally illustrated with a photo of the kid and his hair cut or colour, the shoes or skirt she was wearing or, in this case, the sweets she smuggled into a hotel room.
The whole thing stinks.
When did a bit of discipline suddenly become such a bad thing?
When did teachers stop being able to rely on parents for a bit of support?
It’s one thing having one cheeky, charming teen bending the rules, especially when it’s your own; it’s something else trying to impose some sort of order on 30 self-important oiks who think the World owes them.
I don’t care how arbitrary a rule seems to an individual, the point of rules is to impose boundaries and to ensure good discipline. If the rule is that kids don’t dye their hair or take sweets on a school trip then kids dying their hair or taking sweets on school trips are breaking the rules and they should be punished.
When kids sign up to the rules and when they know what the punishment is going to be for breaking the rules, and when the parents also know what their children have signed up to, the school is even more within its rights to impose whatever sanctions it sees fit.
Last week someone posted this story on FaceBook:
|Holli McCann, sent home from a school holiday|
A case of bad school or bad parent?
This child signed an agreement not to break the rules of her school holiday, including not eating sweets in the hotel rooms. She smuggled in sweets for herself and her three room mates, and consumed those sweets in the hotel room, knowing that the penalty would be that she would be sent home.
First of all, it isn’t up to the school to take kids on holiday, for crying out loud! This wasn’t an educational excursion, this was a jolly! Teachers were giving up their free time, time that they could be spending with their own families, to take other people’s kids away for fun. I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t send my kids away on those sorts of trips, either.
I’m one of those parents who actually wants to spend my free time with my kids, who actually wants to have the pleasure of my kids’ company on holidays. Having said that, if I did send my child on holiday with its school, and my child signed the good behaviour agreement, I’d expect it to stick to the rules.
If my child broke the rules, as the child in the newspaper article did, not only would she be sent home, she would get a damned good dressing down from me, too, for letting me down and for letting herself down. She’d get a damned good dressing down for failing to keep a promise, for breaking her bond, and for lying and cheating.
I certainly wouldn’t be charmed by her behaviour or defend her actions. I wouldn’t attack the school, and I absolutely would not take the story to the newspapers.
Why isn’t this parent ashamed of her child, and why isn’t she ashamed of herself for raising a child who is dishonest?
Why is this parent too stupid to see that putting her child in the newspaper gives that child a horrible reputation going into secondary school in September? I’m sure her primary school is very happy to see the back of her, and I’m sure that her new school is dreading her turning up for the new school year. How can that be good for this child?
This might all sound old-fashioned to you, but this parent has taught this child that she doesn’t need to keep a promise, that signing her name to a document means nothing. It doesn’t bode well for the future does it? I don’t know how many times I’ve heard parents say, ‘Kids will be kids’, but what happens when this parent has got a recalcitrant fifteen year old on her hands? What happens when this kid needs help, because she’s on a downward spiral into sex and drugs, or booze and shop lifting, or whatever it happens to be, and this parent can’t impose any discipline on her, for the good and simple reason that she never has?
There’s a way to be a person, and there’s a way to teach a child to be a person, and this isn’t it.
These news stories are bad enough, and, let’s face it, none of this is really news, is it? But what’s worse is the fact that, after it was posted on FaceBook, this story got more than a dozen people agreeing with the basic tenet that the school was heavy handed. I was a lone voice in the wilderness, as I so often am. The school was not heavy handed, it was implementing its policies, policies that parents and children had signed up to. The rest was foolishness and it was bad and indulgent parenting that will come back to haunt them.
It’s my guess that when this kid gets into real trouble the red top that ran this story won’t be revisiting her and the sorry state that she gets into, because nobody wants to be proven wrong. We reap what we sow, though, and that’s as true of parenting as it is of anything else. This kid’s school might have made a difference in her life, if only her parent had worked in partnership with it, as she should have done, as no doubt, she signed up to do.
I’m glad that my kids are grown up and I don’t have this to go through now, because I did have rules and routines, and I did expect my kids to do as they were told, and I expected any child coming into my home to do as he or she was told, and I still do. What’s more, I still have kids that visited my home over the past twenty years coming back to visit now, happy to see me. I still have kids speak to me in the street that visited my home when they were friends of my kids over the past two decades, and they still show me as much respect now as they did then.
I didn’t have to be anyone’s friend, because I was somebody’s mother. That didn't stop my kids having midnight feasts at home, giggling under the bedclothes with batman torches, but, then, they hadn't signed a good behaviour bond not to... And it didn't stop me doing a bit of finger wagging when I found the sweet wrappers in the morning, either.