I have a front row seat to one of the greatest shows on Earth. You see I get to watch the teachers in my building work magic everyday. Many get to school before I have even finished my breakfast and some do not leave until I am tucking my children in for bed. Their dedication is amazing and spending time with them each day is an honor.
This is why when I hear folks blame teachers for low test scores, poor behavior or low motivation I always cringe. I can’t begin to imagine how teachers could do anymore. And so the next place to place blame is the home. Parents are very easy targets because they are not us. Why would we blame ourselves when we know that we are doing all that we possibly can?
A child comes in without their homework . Their parents must not take their education seriously.
A child misbehaves in class. Their parents must not teach them right from wrong.
A child comes to school disheveled and a mess. Their parents must not care enough to properly dress and groom their child before they come to school.
Well, I can say from experience that sometimes the above statements are in fact true. But I can also say that many times they are not. And we should always assume the best and give each parent the benefit of the doubt. We should because it’s morally decent and we should because we would want our own children’s teachers to do the same for us.
Thankfully my son’s daycare provider, Miss Janet, has known me for years and has always given me much latitude when it comes to some of my parenting skills, or lack thereof.
Let me elaborate. I am the one that usually drops my son off at daycare and I am usually rushed because I simply wait until the last-minute. Well last week we had two major episodes that further allow me to give parents the benefit of the doubt.
One morning I was in such a hurry that I somehow dropped my son off with his, uh, how do I say this? His “little friend” was not tucked all the way in his diaper or his pants. How does one miss that?! If I were to ever have a child walk into my school as my son did last week I would’ve probably speed-dialed social services. Luckily Miss Janet knows I can be in a hurry and knows that I am a good parent. Despite not properly securing my son’s “little friend”.
Later on in the week I had another incident that further tested Miss Janet’s faith in me. You see, my son is in the process of potty training so he has been experimenting with underwear. Well on this particular day my son didn’t quite make it to the potty chair in time. So he peed. All over himself. Cleaning and changing him last-minute was not that big a problem. I have to do it often because he somehow times his “heavy diapers” so they take place right before we are getting ready to walk out the door.
But on this occasion my son not only soaked his clothes, he also soaked the only decent pair of shoes he has. There was no “wiping them off”. My only other option was sending him in his old shoes which have huge holes causing half his foot to stick out of the shoe. I explained all of this to Miss Janet when I walked him in. As I mentioned earlier, she knows me and she gives me the benefit of the doubt. Thankfully!
Here’s the thing. I have lived and currently live a very charmed life. I am married so I have the luxury of having an amazing wife helping me raise my children. I work only one job and really don’t want for anything. Once I walk through the door each evening my entire focus can be on my family.
What about those that aren’t so lucky? Who has to raise numerous children? By themselves. Working two jobs. Without all of the means that I am fortunate enough to have.
Can’t we give them the benefit of the doubt? I think we must. I think we owe it to them and we owe it to ourselves. What is the alternative? Thinking the worst of others? That is not decent and it is not moral.
I would never want to be judged on my “worst moments”. And I also realize that many of my students’ parents unfortunately have many more “worst moments” than I do, simply based on the cards life dealt them.
Take it from me. If I had been judged based on my parenting performance last week I would probably be collecting bail money right now instead of typing this post. So, please do you best week this week to give your students’ parents the benefit of the doubt. They deserve it and you will too one day.