Tales of an Unlikely Mother featured a great blog post today. In her post, the author discusses the life and internet harassment of a teenager who calls herself Kiki Kannibal. Darlena, a mother herself, in addition to great blogger, seems to understand the importance of tough love in parenting. Kiki suffered greatly at the hands of "snarkers" who made a hobby of mocking an underage, troubled girl. However, through it all, her parents never took away her means to reach those who hated her most. Despite not agreeing with the bullies, Darlena goes on to say that she, like the administrator of one of Kiki's hate sites, would have taken the computer away from her child. And so would I.
This is a problem that is ongoing that teachers deal with on multiple levels. First, I have students whose parents seem to enjoy the friend side of parenting rather than actually parenting. Some of my students have confided that parents will buy them alcohol and cigarettes. Parents will let them skip school, buy them outrageous clothes, continue to turn a blind eye to seriously troubling behavior. But why do they do it? Parents don't set out to damage their children. Parents don't want their children upset or hurting, but sometimes they don't realize they are hurting their children by refusing to put their foot down.
From the teaching end of things, some teachers have a hard time putting their foot down as well. Sometimes it seems mean to follow rules regarding dress code, late policies or even "giving" bad grades in general. It's important to remember that sometimes cutting too much slack isn't doing students any favors. Sometimes students need to learn that not doing your work means you don't get credit. Sometimes, students need to learn by doing their work.
There's a reason why teachers and parents shouldn't be friends with their charges. Friends are peers. When you become a child's peer, you no longer have authority over them. Sometimes having a child's best interests at heart means upsetting them. There's a reason children are in the responsibility of others. They do not always have the means to distinguish between a good idea and a horrible idea. When we're responsible for the well-being and education of children, it shouldn't be about how much you want them to like you. It should always be about what is best for them, even if they don't see it that way at the time. It's clichéd, but they'll thank you later.