Stop expecting Schools to Parent

This is one of my old columns from The Province newspaper and I’m sorry to report that things are getting worse at schools, not better.

This column really made the rounds as it was shared with schools all over Canada and the U.S.  Principals contacted me to tell me they put it up on their staff bulletin boards.  They wished they could’ve mailed it out to all the parents but they would’ve lost their jobs if they had.

Here it is:

Stop expecting schools to handle parents’ work

Lisa Bunnage, Special to The Province

Published: Sunday, February 20, 2011

Q: We have two boys, 8 and 11. I am sick and tired of being called to the school just because the teachers can’t handle kids. The boys aren’t doing anything awful, just goofing around in class, kicking balls down the hallway, etc. Why have schools lost control over children and why do they expect parents to do their job for them?

A: I had to read your question several times over so your comments could sink in. Are you seriously blaming the school for your children’s bad behaviour? Believe me, the schools are sick and tired of having to call you into the school just because you’re not doing your job as parents. Schools should only have to teach children academics and keep them safe. But, unfortunately, they’re now expected to teach manners, hygiene, nutrition and the list goes on. Those should all be parental responsibilities.

Also, it’s not fair to the other children who have been raised well to have to put up with disruptive behaviour from classmates. Far too much of the teacher’s time is wasted just reprimanding children with poor behaviour. Those illbehaved children are just a reflection of ineffective parenting.

My intuition tells me your boys aren’t just doing what you claim they’re doing. Sounds to me like you’re not telling me the whole story. “Goofing around in class” could be anything from throwing things to bullying other kids.

If you want to stop the phone calls from school then start parenting. Teach your boys about rules, manners and chores. By providing them with structure and boundaries at home, they will be better behaved everywhere else

If you don’t get control of them now you will be in for quite the wild ride once they’re teenagers.

Do yourself, the school and your boys a favour and start taking your job as a parent more seriously.

You only get one chance at raising them so don’t mess it up.

Lisa Bunnage is a parenting expert in Vancouver: