The woman I was trying to talk to on the telephone was yelling. I held the receiver an inch or two from my ear as I listened to her describe how her child’s teacher hated her daughter. She knew this, she said, because her daughter would come home and tell her how mean the teacher was to her every day. She said that the teacher would fuss at her daughter when she did not complete her work. Her child often told her that the teacher would call her “dumb” in front of all her classmates. She complained that she was sick and tired of the teacher calling her at home to complain about her child. She wanted something done about it immediately.
I asked if she would come to the school for a conference with us that afternoon. She said she could not. I asked if she would come the next day. She said no. Finally, she reluctantly agreed to an afternoon conference in the latter part of the next week. When that day and time arrived, she did not.
Previously, this parent had been told that her child was playing games between the teacher and her because it was difficult for the teacher to contact her. When the teacher tried to send written messages by the child, they never reached the mother. If the teacher called and the daughter answered the telephone, the daughter would hang the phone up when she recognized the teacher’s voice. Add to this that the mother was unwilling to take the time to meet with the teacher and what you have is a formula for creating a child who believes that lies and manipulation will solve any problem.
This fourth grade girl would hit other children and deny she did anything. She would spit on others and claim that she, not they, had been the actual victim. She never completed her homework and always said she lost it when it was due. She would refuse to do her class work and when the teacher made any effort to correct her behavior she would tell her mom that the teacher picked on her. When the teacher managed to contact mom (the teacher visited the home once, and on a few other occasions reached mom by phone), the response was very unfriendly. The mother stated that her daughter should be expected to act like a child. She believed it was unreasonable to expect her to discipline her daughter at home for what happened at school. She also indicated that she was suspicious of the teacher’s motives toward her child because her daughter was so unhappy in her class. No assurances of personal concern, nor anything else the frustrated teacher could think to do or say could break through the apparent wall of distrust that the mother had erected.
But was it really genuine distrust? Could it have been a defense mechanism to excuse mom’s lack of interest in parenting and in confronting the problem of her daughter’s behavior? This mom, like many other parents I have met with, told us that her daughter had never had any problems in previous years with other teachers. She stated that her daughter had always gotten along well in her previous schools and had even made good grades until this year and this particular teacher. When we pulled the child’s records, documenting her performance in previous years at other schools, we began to wonder if we were discussing the same child as this mother. There, in writing before us, was her signature on copies of report cards going back to kindergarten which showed very poor grades, failure to complete assignments, and ongoing discipline problems in every class.
Could it be that the mother had forgotten the concerns expressed to her about her daughter by every teacher since the child was in kindergarten? No! This mom, like many others, had simply placed parenting her child at the bottom of her list of things to do. When anyone asked more of her than she was willing to commit, she denied the problem existed or placed the blame on someone else. She was preoccupied with her own personal list of social needs and material wants. Her personal problems and pursuits always took precedence over her daughter’s. She had failed to discipline her own life and, as a consequence, was unable to find the time to help bring order and stability to the life of her daughter.
Filed under: Christianity, Culture, Family | Comments Off