Team­work needed for son who feels tar­geted by teacher

FAM­ILY LIFE

The Hamilton Spectator - - LIVING - GARY DIRENFELD

Q: How do I, as a par­ent, get my son’s teacher to treat him re­spect­fully? My son com­plains that he feels tar­geted by her and I don’t think she ap­pre­ci­ates the harm she is do­ing.

A: These days there is much pres­sure on teach­ers to go far be­yond the orig­i­nal man­date of ed­u­ca­tion. Teach­ers are called on to babysit, soothe egos and be men­tal health coun­sel­lors and be­hav­iour man­agers.

At the same time many par­ents are hold­ing down at least one job each (and, in some cases, sev­eral jobs) just to make ends meet. In their need to man­age fi­nan­cially, par­ents can feel guilt for be­ing less avail­able to their chil­dren.

These days, chil­dren are of­ten more tied to de­vices than to peo­ple. And in the ab­sence of parental at­ten­tion, many are aim­less and emo­tion­ally dis­con­nected.

Their best friend is the de­vice through which they con­nect to oth­ers — of­ten in mean­ing­less in­ter­ac­tions or through highly charged and stim­u­lat­ing video games.

Par­ents ask me how to ad­dress their con­cerns with teach­ers, and teach­ers ask me how to ad­dress their con­cerns with par­ents.

The so­lu­tion is to re­sist blame and shame, and start a di­a­logue. We need to ap­pre­ci­ate each adult’s role in the child’s life and de­ter­mine rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tions of one an­other in re­gard to the care and ed­u­ca­tion of that child.

So­ci­ety has changed greatly. Par­ents are caught up in eco­nomic con­straints, so­ci­etal changes and a wave of tech­nol­ogy that’s more chal­leng­ing to par­ent­ing than ever be­fore. Teach­ers, in turn, are called on to do so much more with so much less.

As­sum­ing the teacher is dis­re­spect­ful, as your son al­leges, the so­lu­tion is for par­ent and teacher to en­gage in re­spect­ful di­a­logue.

That di­a­logue might start, for ex­am­ple, by ex­press­ing your mu­tual chal­lenges and frus­tra­tions as par­ent and as teacher. You may come to learn some­thing about each other and then, in the calm of re­spect and un­der­stand­ing, you have an op­por­tu­nity to gen­er­ate solutions to sup­port the child.

Have a par­ent­ing or re­la­tion­ship ques­tion? Send it in a brief email to ques­tion@your­so­cial­worker.com. Due to the vol­ume of mail, not all ques­tions will re­ceive a re­ply.

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