My students' parents run the gamut from not being involved or home at all to being a complete helicopter hovering over every detail of their lives. Another recent trend in parenting I have witnessed is a distinct group of enablers who give their children everything, only want to keep the peace and get along, and refuse to be the strict disciplinarians and disseminators of tough love all teenagers need. The result? Entitled, spoiled, and ungrateful young adolescents who think the world should be handed to them on a silver platter and do not understand the true value of good, honest hard work. These children do not receive the kind of tough love and firm limits at home they so desperately crave. Consequently, they come to school expecting everything to be easy and assuming their teachers will be "easy" on them too.
I certainly do not mean to berate today's parents, especially because I am not yet a parent myself. Nonetheless, teaching over 120 students per day for the past several years has allowed me a unique perspective into our new generation of students as people, learners, and consumers. Anyone who has studied adolescent development knows about the rollercoaster of emotions, decisions, peer pressures, and outside media and societal influences today's teens wrestle with. It is not an easy time to grow up, and I have great empathy toward today's adolescents.
Still, the value of hard work, honest struggle, and consistent consequences is truly invaluable to our next generation. I work every day to be in collaboration with parents to work towards the best for my students. I only want the best for them and the opportunity for them to experience success, failure, hardship, and consequences for their mistakes. How else will they grow or learn from past decisions?
Perhaps this mindset is what made the following chain of emails difficult to read this evening. The exchange is between my colleague and a student's parent, someone whom we have continually struggled with as an enabler. It is impossible to change her outlook, but we certainly can do all we can to work with her son and not give up on him. This excerpt should be read from bottom to top: