Bad Parent Stories

After my most popular letter to the editor appeared last year, a letter venting frustration about the lack of rigorous, involved parenting in Southern Nevada and the subsequent failure of students to achieve, I wanted to compile a book of bad parent stories for teachers to enjoy.  I planned to collect anecdotes about the clueless, the neglectful, and the flat out moronic.  As we tend to say around here, the apple doesn’t fall far from the idiot tree. 

I put queries and invitations on several places online, but never got a string response.  I’m still interested in doing the book, though.  In fact, if anyone sees this and wants to share a “bad parent” story, please let me know. 

Here are six of my favorites:

1. A couple of years ago, a high school counselor I knew had
an irate father come into his office at the beginning of a
school day. The father announced that his daughter had
come to school with inappropriate thong underwear on, and
demanded to know what the counselor was going to do about
it. The counselor was momentarily stunned, but replied
that there was really nothing that the school could do.
Fuming, the father left. He never explained how he knew
what kind of underwear his daughter was wearing, and we
never asked.

2. My first time teaching summer school, I sent a girl to
the office for a clear dress code violation: her shirt had
strings for shoulder straps and a neckline that plunged
halfway to her waist. As soon as the school day ended, the
girl came striding into my room with a smug smirk on her
face, and her mother storming in beside her. The mother
demanded to know why I was looking at her daughter’s
chest. I stammered, then told her that she had to discuss
this with an administrator first. Since then, I’ve had
trouble enforcing dress codes.

3. In one parent conference, a mother was presented with
evidence that her son had skipped every one of his classes
for two weeks.

“Could these records be wrong?” she asked.

After a pause, during which the teachers gave each other
confused looks, I asked, “You mean, did all six of us
mistakenly mark your son absent? Every day? For two
weeks?”

She didn’t miss a beat. “It could happen.”

4. When two colleagues and I met with the mother of a
freshman whom we all taught that year, to discuss his
failing grades, it came up that he was playing video games
seven hours a day, had trouble sleeping because he pictured
violent screen images whenever he closed his eyes, and
couldn’t sit still unless he had a controller in his hands.

The three of us suggested that it might be a good idea to
take the video games away, for educational as well as for
health purposes.

“I don’t know,” the mother mused aloud. “I spent over
three hundred dollars on that stuff.” We noted that that
money was already spent, and that taking the games away was
clearly better than letting his condition continue.

“You don’t understand,” she patiently explained. “I spent
over three hundred dollars on that stuff.”

5. A mother called me once to ask how she could motivate
her daughter to do better in school. Delighted, I asked
what she had already done.

“Everything!” she protested. I asked if she had taken away
items that her daughter valued.

“No.”

I asked if the daughter had a car or a job that might be
distracting her. The mother replied in the affirmative.

“You’re the parent,” I explained. “You can take away the
car.”

“Oh, no, I couldn’t do that. She needs the car to get to
her job.”

“Then, if her grades don’t improve, make her quit the job.”

“That won’t work! She needs her job to pay for the car.”

6. One year when I was working as a counselor, I called the
home of a girl who had been marked absent every day for
three months and asked what was going on. The mother was
shocked, apologetic, and agreed when I asked her to come
in. Two hours later, the mother, her sister, and the girl
came storming into my office, righteous indignation written
on all three faces in bold. Before she even sat
down, the mother asked why the school had never told her
that her daughter hadn’t been coming. I explained that our
computers automatically send notices home every few
absences. The mother declared that she had not received
any notices, so they must not have been sent. She then
stared at me expectantly.

I lost it. “You have got to be kidding me! You can’t get
your kid to even go to school, you have such a lousy
relationship with her that you didn’t even know that she
ditched for three months, you didn’t notice that she never
had homework, and you’re apparently not worried about where
she was and what she was doing all those weeks when she
wasn’t here…and you’re mad at us! Where do you get
off?!”

She was stunned and silent, then they quietly left. I
never saw any of them again.

 

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