Maybe Punishing Parents Isn’t Such a Bad Idea After All.

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I've Got an Idea!Every so often a student will get in trouble at school.

I know, I know… this comes as a shock to most of you. This is the dirty little secret of education. Students don’t always do exactly what they are told.

But wait, there’s more. You may want to sit down.

Students almost always know the difference between right and wrong. It’s true. I seldom run into a kid who doesn’t understand this concept.

Don’t get me wrong, they may not care but they know.

This knowledge of what is right certainly doesn’t stop them from testing the rules from time to time. Hopefully, this only happens occasionally (because the 1% who are chronic wear me out…)

And when these little bumps in the road happen, it’s okay. Kids are in school to learn. About math, science, social skills, being part of a team, appropriate behavior, and how much they can push the system before they get pushed back.

In my estimation, it is a good thing that students test the boundaries. This is how they learn. And they often pick up these valuable skills from others (sometimes they gain invaluable knowledge from the worst kid in your class… like don’t set the garbage can (or a freshman) on fire).

As educators, our job is to teach students these lessons along with a thousand more (it’s a big job, but it beats working for a living).

Our students need to learn these behaviors before we send them out in the real world.

Of course, while I believe in this, it would be nice if they didn’t test my limits late on Friday afternoon. Or Monday mornings. Or any day where I was up late the night before. Or especially during my lunch break.

Students will make mistakes and it is our job to correct them (consider it job security).

This part of the process never frustrates me.

I have found some of my most loyal students are the ones I have had to discipline in the past.

Once you get them through the process, they are better off for it. And they know it. They may not admit it, but they know it.

Now parents, they are a different story.

I particularly enjoy parents who want to take the blame for their child.

As in “It was my fault they were late. Punish me.” Or “They didn’t get their homework done because I had to go to (fill in the blank). You should give me the detention.”

My response is always the same. We aren’t here to teach parents a lesson.

Although once, just once, I think I would like to punish the parent.

Maybe a Saturday School, a suspension, or even an expulsion.

I truly believe this idea has some merit because just like with kids, you wouldn’t have to punish all the parents to make a point. Just a few.

Bad news travels fast.

And the rest of your parents would learn a valuable lesson.

A lesson they evidently didn’t learn when they went through school.

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15 Responses to “Maybe Punishing Parents Isn’t Such a Bad Idea After All.”


  1. Jorgie
    on Jan 24th, 2009
    @ 12:38 pm

    I really get you. One of my favorite examples of wanting to punish a parent occured when a student wore a shirt that said “Suck This” with a large arrow underneath. I will let you imagine which direction it pointed. Well I asked him to go to the bathroom and turn the shirt inside out. “No” Ok, go to the office and they will explain why you can’t wear that shirt.

    Long story somewhat shorter, Mom was called. Couldn’t see any problem with the shirt. In fact she had bought it for him and thought it was hilarious. Maybe to some people in some contexts but not at a public school.

    I do have to slightly disagree. It isn’t always parents making excuses. My son had a book he wanted to return to the library. He knew it was going to be late. I told him that I was too tired and that I wasn’t able to drive him down there. Could my 9 year old have left the house and walked down to the library to be responsible? Not if he wanted to stay safe. Sometimes it really isn’t a kids fault and it really isn’t a parent’s fault. We have so many constraints on our lives that sometimes life just gets in the way of living. Why must everyone comply? Does there have to be only one due date? Does everyone have to arrive at school at exactly the same time? Yes I know there must be order but with a world that is living 24/7 when are schools going to stop functioning like it is still a 9 to 5 world. It bugs us when kids are annoying after we have had a long night, what about the parent that suddenly got a double shift dumped on them and simply can’t get their child to school safely. Who should be punished? Maybe nobody.


  2. UltimateTeacher
    on Jan 24th, 2009
    @ 8:40 pm

    I wrote about a crazy parent incident on my blog as well (looks like 2009 isn’t turning out so well). http://onecrazyteachertoanother.blogspot.com/2009/01/can-you-belive-this.html

    It’s a lot a harder to get a dog, than it is to make a child. I just hope that one day more parents will show the respect and care for their children as we do.


  3. Charlie A. Roy
    on Jan 25th, 2009
    @ 12:09 pm

    An interesting (in good way) post. Parents are often our best friends and worse enemies at the same time. A few years ago i had a student sent to my office for swearing in class. I called his father and was put on with his secretary. I left a message asking him to call back. A few seconds later my phone ring and before I could say hello i heard, “What did the little piece of s#4t do this time?” I said, “Believe it or not he was thrown out of class for swearing. I can’t figure out where he gets it from” to which the father jokingly replied, “probably his mother”. Every day is an adventure.


  4. micsmith
    on Jan 25th, 2009
    @ 12:30 pm

    Great comment and great story.

    The apple certainly doesn’t fall far from the tree in most cases.

    When parents want to know why their kid acts a certain way… they can usually just think about their behavior at the same age.


  5. Angie
    on Jan 26th, 2009
    @ 11:46 am

    Yes, let’s punish the parents: have them sit through 6 weeks of TAKS prep and then take the test.

    On a brighter note, this site had been unblocked! I can now add this back to my goof off list at work!


  6. Pat
    on Feb 7th, 2009
    @ 6:31 am

    This was a great post! It brings back memories of when I was cheerleader coach and one of cheerleaders was the daughter of a very conservative state senator (who also went to high school with my husband). This politician knew I got to school early and almost every other day had me in the principal’s office at 7:30 in the morning to complain that I had given his daughter demerits or made her run laps when it was his fault she was (late, not prepared, etc.). He was the type that was dressed in an expensive suit with not a hair out of place and I so wanted to tell him that he had to run laps with her then if he was at fault too. Then they both could learn a lesson. It was a very long year!


  7. Jorgie
    on Feb 9th, 2009
    @ 11:01 am

    Excellent. Well said.


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