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Class Act: Are You A Difficult Parent?

Difficult Parent to Teachers

There is little doubt that teachers, these days, have far greater expectations placed upon them. As a consequence of busier parents and increased social pressures, teachers are now expected be be far more involved in the welfare and ‘raising’ of a child than they were many years ago. This is further complicated by restrictions they now have around imposing and enforcing discipline.

Some time ago I worked for several years as a school counsellor in a large K-12 school. My on-going frustration arose from having so little time to deal with students as I spent the majority of my time managing parents and staff. These situations, more often than not, arose from parents discontent around how their children were being treated by teachers; often disputing disciplinary actions imposed by a teacher.

It seems that as much as parents want further involvement and engagement from teachers and schools, they are wanting a greater say over how this happens. This can and is leading to, what appears to be, a highly unmanagable state of affairs within our classrooms.

With parents reacting or, dare I say it, over-reacting to regulations imposed upon their children, it sends a very clear message to the child that they need not have any respect for the authority of their teachers. If Mum and Dad jump to their defense each time they are reprimanded, it not only makes for a very vulnerable teacher but it is highly unproductive for the development of a child. Their capacity to learn boundaries and ascertain an appropriate understanding of action equals consequence is greatly compromised.

I am not saying for a second that we should not listen to our child if they feel as if they are being unfairly treated. What is paramount, as a parent, is to challenge the child to explore their own behaviour and how that behaviour may have led to the situation they find themselves in.

In my experience, one of the greatest issues affecting our young people today is an inability to be accountable for their actions and take adequate responsibility for themselves. This, in turn, can lead to a lack of resilience as they have no capacity to learn from or overcome issues that are actually within their control.

Basically, if you are a parent who seeks to constantly hold others accountable for the behaviour of your child, you are teaching your child the exact same method of response. As a Mother of four I understand that, as parents, we would do anything to protect our children. I would say that one of the most challenging and ongoing issues we face is stepping back and allowing our children to endure consequences. As painful as this is at the time, it is far less brutal than dealing with a teenager incapable of grasping the basic elements of respect, accountability and resilience. Trust me when I say, you do not want to end up here!

Written by Jules Allen

Jules Allen is a former MasterChef contestant and a single mother with four children who has been a foster mother to 29 children over the past 15 years.

Jules considers herself as an ‘earth mother’. With four kids: two sons, Jay and Ishy (16 and 17), daughters Elisha (21) and India (18). Her family is a blend of her own, adopted and foster children.

The importance of good food in healing damaged lives is paramount to Jules, and she does this by raising awareness through school talks around the country and encouraging the next generation to do what they can to make a difference.

Jules is an ambassador for Meals On Wheels - an organisation legendary across Australia for its work in providing nutritious meals on a daily basis to those in need.

Her contribution to foster care and child protection, her charity work for many organisations, including helping rebuild Women’s and Children’s refuge in the Soloman Islands, and her ambassador roles for National Adoption Awareness, Foster Care Australia, the Pjama Foundation and Brookfarm, were recently recognised by the ABC’s Australian Story, who featured an in- depth story on Jules’ dedication, commitment and contribution to many deserving charities.

She has just launched her Waccii Nurturing Tea company, with all profits supporting Waccii (Women’s and Children’s Care Initiative Incorporated).

Jules Allen is a contributing Parent expert for The Carousel.

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