In Search of the Good Parent
You’d think after 3 decades working as a teacher and then a school principal that I’d have found more than a few good parents along the way. And I did. A lot, actually. I found most parents are good. We just don’t talk about them near enough. We give all our airtime to those who are anything but. You’d think to hear us talk that we believe if it wasn’t for parents, our job as educators would be perfect. Well, in truth, that’s not the case. So here goes…here’s what we really think about the good parents who send their children to us each day. The search is over.
What Good Parents Look Like to Educators
- Good parents don’t make excuses for their children’s misbehavior. Let’s face it. All kids are going to misbehave at one time or another. There is no need to be defensive about it. It’s not the parents’ fault. It’s always better to focus on the misbehavior as the result of a choice the child made, and deal with what led them to make the poor choice, so they don’t make it again.
- Good parents don’t blame teachers for everything that goes wrong. Playing the blame game serves no good purpose. It is only divisive and leads to increasing the chances of something really going wrong in the future. Again, when things go wrong, it’s the result of a poor choice being made. It’s more important to figure out how that choice won’t be made again.
- Good parents see teachers as the professionals they are. Teachers, like other professionals, are not perfect, and they do make mistakes. But they have gone through rigorous training, and they have been certified for service by the state. Despite these facts, though, it is still so much more helpful when parents don’t automatically see teachers in an unfavorable light. Do they automatically see doctors and dentists in a negative view?
- Good parents think it is important for their children to see teachers and parents as being on the same team. Just like it is for moms and dads, it is important for children to see their parents and teachers talking and working together for their benefit. It shows they are on the same page, that they communicate, and that they support one another. It also shows them that they are important and that teachers and moms and dads care.
- Good parents come to school events, especially student conferences, and back-to-school night. One thing that can be heard teachers saying every year at parent conference times and back-to-school night is: “Mostly the parents of the students who are doing well came tonight. Where are the parents we need to see and talk to the most?” It’s important for children to see their parents at school, not just when they are in trouble, but in general too. Again, it shows that school is important, and even more, that they are important at school.
- Good parents make sure their children read, read, read at home. Reading is still the most important skill students learn at school. It is still the skill that lands them the best jobs possible. Parents who read show its importance even more, especially reading for pleasure. Children still most often do what they see their parents do. Read to your children. Have them read to you. It may be the most important thing that schools and parents do for children, and imagine the influence of doing it together.
- Good parents want to regularly communicate with teachers about their children’s progress. Without overdoing it, regular communication is a must. Good parents want to know what their children do each day, what homework has been assigned when tests are coming up, and how their children are progressing. School or classroom websites are a must, for parents to check in on their own. Daily general e-mails are very helpful, especially for homework. Texts for personal matters, but not major deals, can do the trick. Phone messages that lead to phone calls are still vital. And nothing will ever replace the power of meeting face to face.
- Good parents see teachers as their partners in raising their children. Teachers love it when parents ask them for advice on how to best help their children succeed at school. And parents love it when teachers ask them for behavior strategies that work at home. When teachers and parents act like partners in child raising, magical things happen…children grow and succeed. What more could you ask?
- Good parents talk to teachers before going to school administrators. Most children tell their parents about everything that goes on in school…especially the spicy stuff. How children relate what they see is interesting. And how they see what they see…even more so…and if it is anything, it can be downright concerning. Good parents reach out to their children’s teachers first to see what really happened. It’s affirming to both and resolves situations most often at the lowest level of involvement and concern possible.
- Good parents show appreciation for their children’s teachers. From a teacher perspective, it feels so good to hear an “atta boy” or “girl” from a parent. It not only makes our day, it may well make our week or even month. I’m sure it feels good as a parent to get a call from a teacher that is not about something wrong. You too like to hear that your child is doing well, which does translate into suggesting that you too are doing a good job.