Parents. In my years as a teacher, I have met many types of classroom parents. Some have been amazing people who made teaching their children even more rewarding. Their support of my instruction and reinforcement of content at home was second to none. Then there are those parents. You know, the ones who will drive you up the wall. You know … those parents.
Good and bad, here are 10 parents I can instantly recognize—and I bet you can, too.
1. The “This is My Only Child” Parent
This parent means well. They really do. You can spot them quickly during the first week of school because they customarily send long emails to let you know their child is excited to take your class when really they are ones who are excited. These parents are the ones that don’t just drop the kid off but walk them to the classroom door. They can be … a challenge, but I know deep down that they mean well.
2. The “This is My Youngest of Five” Parent
The “this is my youngest of five” parent comes in a few varieties. They can be just like “only child” parents, trying to protect their youngest. They can also be the parent who has “figured out” the system. These parents will not hesitate to tell you about all four older siblings’ bad experience with the school, as if you can somehow fix it. Or they can just be too tired to deal with their child. You know what they say—the youngest gets away with everything.
3. The “Sports Are Life” Parent.
I must admit that I generally like these parents until their respective sports season starts. These are the parents that you can talk to about your favorite team. (Hey, I like sports!) They are also the parent who will email you right before game night, threatening to call the district or principal if you don’t pass their child. Normally you’ll meet with them right after they’ve left their second session of CrossFit. They are frequently armed with their high school state championship ring and may even send their kid to school wearing a 1988 letterman jacket from their glory days. Proceed with caution.
4. The “I Know More Than You” Parent
If you had to pick a favorite kind of parent, it wouldn’t be this one. These parents are some of the most difficult parents to deal with. They are often truly intelligent people. But they are something else I tell you! These parents will argue about test questions, email articles to prove their point, and will tell you about ALL the typos on anything you send home. They make you wonder why they don’t homeschool or just become a teacher themselves.
5. The “It’s Never My Child’s Fault” Parent.
No matter what you do or how hard you work, these parents will always defend their child’s innocence. While you may wish they would disappear, they are here to stay! When their child earns a poor grade, it’s your fault. If their child gets in trouble, it’s your fault. If their child trips and falls in the hallway, they will probably say you tripped them.
6. The “It’s Always My Child’s Fault” Parent.
One the other hand, while it’s hard to handle the “it’s never my child’s fault” parent, sometimes the “it’s always my child’s fault” parent can be even more difficult. These parents make for very uncomfortable meetings. I will admit, for my students’ sake, that I avoid contacting these parents. I’m all for parent support of us teachers, but these parents normally take that to a scary extreme.
7. The “I Used to Be a Teacher” Parent
I’ll admit that these parents usually make my eyes roll into the back of my head. As soon as I hear the words, “Well, you know, I used to be a teacher,” steam starts coming out of my ears, and I’m all of a sudden only able to see red. We have all been there. “I used to be a teacher” is normally followed by some critique of your instructional technique, delivery, or lesson design. I’ve resolved to ask this parent the next time I meet them, “Why aren’t you still a teacher? Couldn’t hang?” OK, so I won’t really say that, but I know we’ve all thought it!
8. The Invisible Parent
This is the parent that will show up to one open house and then disappear forever. You can call, email, and even try to make a home visit, but you will never see this parent during the school year. You may even forget they exist! Your appreciation of this parent depends on the mix of other parents in your classes. If you have lots of “I used to be a teacher” parents and “it’s never my child’s fault” parents, you will love the invisible parent! However, if their child won’t behave, turn in work, or really struggles, this parent can be tough to deal with.
9. The Unhinged Parent
Last but certainly not least is the unhinged parent. This parent’s reputation travels from grade to grade, school to school, and even city to city at times. They are the hardest parents to deal with and sometimes the hardest to spot because they can look like an “I do my child’s homework” parent, or an “It’s never my child’s fault” parent. They can even be a mix of several of these parent personalities.
These parents send cryptic emails or show up to school at random times. They corner you to talk about grades at sporting events. These are the parents that try to friend you on Facebook—not because they want to be your friend, but because they want to monitor your personal life. (Just ignore that Facebook request.)
10. The “I Do My Child’s Homework” Parent
This parent is easy to spot, though you may never actually meet them in person. The “I do my child’s homework” parent is oddly not ashamed of their actions. Most of the time, they do not even attempt to disguise the handwriting, as if we can’t tell the difference between sixth grade writing and someone with a college degree. I think that in the course of completing the child’s work for them, they must lose themselves in the content and forget their child doesn’t actually know what the word “aforementioned” means or how to use it in a sentence.
While parents can be difficult to deal with, it’s important to remember that working with them is part of the job. Sure, you’re going to come across parents who are a little intense or overbearing, but at the end of the day, they love their child. And they want the best for them, just like we do.
Do you have a story to share about one of these parent personalities? Come share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.