This week we published an article called “The Jackhammer Parents Are Here and They’re Destroying School.” What are jackhammer parents, you ask?
“Similar to the helicopter and lawnmower parents before them, jackhammer parents scrutinize both their children’s opportunities and challenges, intervening in schooling, grades, and friendships. But born during the added pressures of a pandemic and divisive political climate, jackhammer parents take their intensive parenting to new heights. Dialogue is fruitless. Compromise is a non-option. They’re not just interested in getting their way; they need anyone who gets in their way obliterated.”
Though the article focused on one teacher’s experience navigating a small group of relentless parents this past year, educators from across the country (and even the world) weighed in with similar experiences, perspectives, and solutions.
Many commenters relayed their own experiences with jackhammer parents:
“The jackhammer parents have been around for a long time. We just didn’t see them in the classroom. I coached dance for 11 years. I started coaching in 2009. They were overtly present and were set out to destroy me and my coaching staff. I read these stories and cringe because their poison has spread.” —Katie A.
“I’ve met them. And they raise emotionally and intellectually stunted children. It’s very sad. If you remove every obstacle, you deny your child the chance to learn how to overcome. Not all disappointments are injustices.” —Matthew F.
“It’s relentless and unreasonable. We spend so much energy on this group that it takes us away from our work with students. It’s political, and public education is being used as a tool for an agenda … and kids will lose.” —Dana M.
“A friend of mine was very ill with COVID, and parents insisted on contacting her at home instead of talking to the substitute. While she was bedridden, parents harassed her about not grading papers. When she was finally able to return to work, one parent looked her in the eye and asked if she’d had a nice vacation!” —Stephanie L.
“They sit on and run our school board.” —Melissa S.
Others weighed in to share comparisons and a range of perspectives on this parenting trend:
“With growing teacher shortages, I would hope school administrators put an end to this harassment. It’s not the parent’s role to evaluate teachers. Administrators need to hold the line and defend teachers.” —Joan R.
“We need more people who have left the profession to speak up. (Or teachers who are still employed, but that’s a little more challenging). Nothing is going to change unless we get more vocal.” —Jennifer Z.
“I think one of the problems is that we (educators) asked parents to step in and help in the spring of 2020, but we never said, ‘OK, we’re back; we’ve got the reins again.’ It’s been a relatively long time, especially depending on how old the children are and what the family has experienced, and some sort of reset needs to happen. Educators, from the top down, need to have the confidence in our experience to say, ‘We love your child, too, and understand what you are saying, but here is the professional line we are drawing based on our education, certification, and years of experience.’” —Beth S.
“When are animals most aggressive and prone to attack? When they feel threatened. I believe parents today see the economic prospects for their children dimming as we define ‘success’ in a more and more narrow way. They are fearful for the future of their children and lashing out at the people that they believe might keep their children from a good life. Teachers are not to blame for the harsh system, and we are all just trying to make a living.” —Christina O.
Other teachers shared the structures in place at their own schools to mitigate the effect of jackhammer parents:
“I was ready to switch schools for next year, but honestly one of the big things that changed my mind is … all complaints go through our academic advisor team, who speak to the parents first and then help parents set a one-on-one if needed. I’ve had a grand total of two parents escalate to a one-on-one in all four years at the school.” —Savannah B.
“After reading this, I’m so grateful that our district adopted a ‘civility policy’ many years ago and posted it in the schools. Basically, it outlines how parents/visitors/staff interact with each other. Our conferences always include admin or guidance, so there is a ‘neutral’ party in the room. If parents start to verbally attack, they are reminded of the policy. If it continues, they are escorted out of the building. So, we may not please the parents, but we are protected from the jackhammer.” —Jean F.
Districts, take note!
What are your thoughts on the jackhammer parent? Share with us in the comments!
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