Sometimes when people misbehave it’s hard to imagine what could be going on in their heads We often assume that people’s actions are totally intentional, but sometimes there are other reasons.
Here are thirty-five times teachers got to understand their students by meeting the parents.
1. I wonder where he gets it from…
My wife called a student’s parents to talk about the kid swearing all the time and general bad attitude.
After explaining to the mom why she was calling, she replied with ‘I told that kid a million times to watch his mouth. Just wait til his daddy gets home.’ however every third word was a profanity and finally everything clicked into place.
2. Well that’s scary
I had a second grade student who was constantly getting into pretty serious physical altercations with others–stabbing kids with pencils, slapping girls across the face, etc. The first time I met his mom was when she came up to the school threatening to choke me because I said her son couldn’t come on a field trip to the pumpkin patch because he was “too violent.”
3. Oh wow…
This girl in prep already showed traits of a narcissist/sociopath. She was an extremely clever but lacked empathy, manipulative, blatantly lied, stole and so on. Yes, this might just sound like characteristics of any child but there was definitely something different about her. Anyway, met her mum who refused to accept that her child would do anything wrong, and when the child admitted she stole a girl’s bracelet because she wanted it, her mum said that’s ok we can go buy you one on the way home.
4. How do people get away with this for so long?
I work at a psychiatric hospital for children and teens. I work directly with the kids so I don’t get to meet parents often. We had a super sweet little girl on my unit once, they said it was because she assaulted her little 3 year old sister.
But the whole thing just didn’t make sense. I can read kids well and usually the ones that are violent and dangerous to family have a certain attitude. She just didn’t. She was meek, respectful and just overall the easiest patient I’d ever had.
When visitation came, her parents showed up and it all started to make sense. They would just berate her, for everything. Here is this little 9 year old girl and her mom is telling her she’s messed up. Why can’t she be normal? And this kid just took it…
Not for long though because I am allowed to remove the child at my discretion if I think it will make it worse for her and so I did. And promptly called CPS. It turns out that all the ‘abuse’ she was doing to her sister was just the mother abusing both of them and then blaming it on the little girl.
You will all be happy to know that she was moved in with her grandparents in a different state and is thriving and happy.
5. Compassions goes a long way
My 5th grade teacher said she understood why at times I couldn’t finish my homework or fall asleep in class after seeing my mother had cancer. I’m sure before that she thought I was lazy.
She became super close with my mom after and the day my mom passed away (still in 5th grade) she cried in class when they messaged her, and that’s how I knew it was over.
I personally believe teachers make a huge impact in a child’s life and she really helped me out, and understood.
6. Positivity breeds positivity
I have a student who is really friendly, really smart, and amazing at English (I am an English as a foreign language teacher abroad). She is always really friendly to me and always really hardworking. She constantly helps other kids in class who struggle with the material and overall just a great girl.
I met her dad once at a school event and holy goodness was this guy awesome. He was a really genuine and generous character and even invited me to get to know different parts of the city with his family. I could definitely tell they had a close bond and that he had raised her really well.
Just an example of good people raising other good people.
7. Help me mommy!
I teach college classes so I don’t normally meet my students’ parents, but here’s a backwards example of meeting the mom and having it click later.
I used to teach at a community college where it wasn’t that unusual to have family members in the same class. I’ve had a lot of siblings take classes together, once a husband-wife pair, so it didn’t strike me as that weird when a woman introduced herself and her son on the first day of class.
Except the mother was not on the attendance sheet. She was not registered for the course. I double-checked with the administration and learned that she wasn’t a student at all I talked to her at the end of that first class and told her that, unfortunately, this class is for students only and she was welcome only if she registered for it. She said she had to be there for her son, that he needed accommodations and she was there to provide them. I told her in that case her son needed to get official documentation from the disability services office and then we could work from there, but short of that I couldn’t allow her in the classroom for the sake of the other students. She said that was fine but, unsurprisingly, nothing ever came of it and I didn’t see her again except to drop off or pick up her son.
His attendance was perfect but his in-class work (what he managed to turn in, sometimes he’d sit there doing nothing) was drastically different from his take-home assignments… Mom wanted to be there to do his work for him. He had gotten so used to his mother doing everything for him and saw no reason to change that when he got to college.
8. Excellent priorities
When I was student teaching (2nd grade), there was a little boy in the class who was just a genuinely friendly and sweet kid. He struggled a little academically when it came to learning to read and his handwriting had some problems, but he was the hardest worker and never got frustrated or thought that we was stupid (like many other students with those difficulties do). He was well-liked by everyone and didn’t have a mean bone in his body. And he was extremely well-adjusted, despite the fact that his parents were divorced.
I ended up meeting both parents separately during field trips. Both parents are extremely involved in his life and put him ahead of any of their problems they have with each other. They genuinely want what’s best for him and it shows. The dad takes him out to the sports bar for boys’ night where they share root beer which I thought was really cool. Both parents genuinely are awesome people with great attitudes and it definitely shows in their kid.
9. He needs a fidget-spinner
I was telling the parent that their child was generally inattentive, he would look around, fidget, and just nod along smiling when I knew had hadn’t been listening. As I was consulting my notes, I looked up to see the parent looking around the room, bouncing their leg. As soon as they realized that I was done talking, they nodded and smiled.
10. Clutching at straws
This is from back when I was doing my student teaching.
There was a girl in one of my classes that never did any work in class, turned in her homework late, and would ignore huge projects until literally the last minute and then ask to come in for help every day at lunch/after school to make up for the missing work.
Eventually I caught her cheating on a quiz (she had written down the answers, put them in the plastic cover of her binder, and put her binder down by her feet). I took her quiz, gave her a 0, and told her that cheating wasn’t allowed.
About a week later, we had parent-teacher conferences the girl came with her mother, who took out every assignment that had been graded and handed back, and proceeded to argue with me over individual points. Things along the lines of “Well she spelled it all right, so that deserves some credit, right?” or “she circled the right answer, so she should still get some credit!” when that right answer had been crossed off and then another answer had been selected.
This took nearly an hour to go through. Finally, the mother brought up the quiz, and I told her about the cheating. The mom said, “Well you should give her some credit on it, she was pretty clever to think of that trick.”
From then on, I made sure to schedule meetings with myself, my mentor teacher, and the principal present.
College freshman was constantly late, didn’t turn work in on time or at all, etc. She had an excuse for every single thing. I wasn’t even asking… She just volunteered excuses.
After getting a D in my class, which was frankly a bit generous as her actual grade was a high F, her mother called me. I wasn’t allowed to discuss a student’s performance with anyone, including their parents, and I told her as much.
Her mother then, unprompted, gave me a long string of excuses for her daughter and (oddly) herself.
I kind of thought “ohhhhh that makes sense now.”
Kid named “Rowdy”. Super nice kindergartener. Wondered why the hell his name was Rowdy.
Met his mom. Dad was MIA. Lived with grandma. In a hoarder-house and they smoked inside with the window closed.
He graduated last spring. Saw him walking in the rain at 9 am – not sure where he was headed, but all I could think was he was headed in the wrong direction. 🙁
13. Poor kid…
I volunteer work for a program designed to help students who are habitually truant. Had one middle schooler who was super bright, genuinely seemed to love school, got great grades, but was absent about half the time. He was very evasive about why he wasn’t coming to class and I honestly didn’t put him high on my list because he was doing fine even with the missed days.
When I was finally able to get a social worker to go by his house, it turned out his (single) mother was having seizures and didn’t have any healthcare so she couldn’t get treatment for them, and the kid was staying home to take care of both her and his younger brother. I felt just terrible for the kid having to be so adult while still in middle school.
14. Everything starts to come into focus
Kid was just awful. No diagnosis, no disability. Just an awful, terrible, disrespectful piece of human waste.
The only time in the three years I had him that his parents actually came to the school was for a basketball award his team received. They ignored him unless they were able to talk about themselves in context of their child, or if they were yelling at him. Genuinely yelling at him in front of a group of people there to watch him be awarded for his abilities.
There was nothing else. They either ignored him, screamed at him, or used him as a tool to talk about how great they were.
Oh man. That poor kid. It all came into sharp, sharp focus that day.
15. Like father like son
Had a kid that never made eye contact ever. The Dad came in for a parents meeting. Same thing. Didn’t make eye contact at all during the meeting.
16. Product of environment
I taught preschool. I had one boy that was really clingy. He would always want to be the one sitting on my lap at story time. He would constantly look for my approval when he was playing. He would act out if he wasn’t the center of attention. I found it a little obnoxious and would get so frustrated sometimes.
Then, one day, his father came to pick him up. In uniform. After being deployed for weeks. It clicked. He just wanted the love and affection he was missing while his dad was away. I felt terrible. He became one of my favorite students after that.
17. This poor kid
In kindergarten we had this kid who was really odd and smelled funny but he seemed cool so we would hang out at recess. I had a birthday party and it was only supposed to last maybe a few hours. All of the kids but him went home fairly early but it was really late and his parents still hadn’t showed up. I was getting tired and wanted to go to bed so my parents set up some blankets for us in the living room and we had a sleep over.
At 2 am his parents finally show up (after multiple calls with no answer). Instantly I realized what was up. Even as a small child I knew these parents were the definition of white trash. They reeked of alcohol (my mom’s side of the family is full of alcoholics so I knew what it smelled like). They also told some rubbish story about how they had new tires of their car and the speedometer showed the wrong speed and they got pulled over.
It all clicked why he acted so odd and why he smelled (it was cigarette smoke). At the start of first grade he never showed up and the like a month into the year he was there for a few days. Then randomly in 3rd grade he showed back up again for a few weeks. I never saw him again after that. Then I looked him up on Facebook a while back; It looks like he is following in his parents footsteps up falling into every white trash stereotype.
I asked my parents about this kid a while ago and they said that the reason he wasn’t with us in school for a few years is that he got taken away by child protective services whom my mom had called. Then he came back because that’s when his parents got him back but he was taken away again and that’s why he left us.
I feel bad for the kid because at first he was really nice but over time as I saw him again he became more mean and rude. Such awful parents.
18. It all adds up now
Didn’t actually meet the parents, but was recently told about the parents of a 9th grader I have. Apparently, the dad is super verbally abusive, constantly belittling the son. Like, bordering on reportable abuse, but just not quite over that line his former teachers said.
This kid acts out, is constantly seeking positive attention, has no self esteem, despite being pretty smart and capable. It all just makes a lot of sense now.
Obviously an extreme example here, but I had a student, an eighth grader, who was quiet to the point of absolute silence, but who did extraordinarily well with the written word. A few times, he showed up with bruises, which I naturally reported, but he was adamant that they were from other students. Surprisingly, his parents came in for PTC and seemed relatively normal. Until he went to speak for himself and I saw his father grip his arm so tightly that it left a mark.
I understood immediately that his parents basically didn’t let him speak at all for fear of reprisal. A few weeks afterward, the kid stopped showing up to school, and word eventually got around that he got caught up in a meth lab explosion in his parents’ house and was covered head to toe in second and third degree burns. He came back a month or so later, covered in bandages. He couldn’t move, write, or really do anything without excruciating pain. I’d never cried so hard as I did that day. Sorry, I know it got off track but there are certain stories that stick with you.
20. Like mother, like daughter
One female organ student I had always wore dresses that were very revealing – both above the knee and in cleavage. When she’d sit on the organ bench for a lesson, it was almost embarrassing.
I wondered why she’d insist on dressing this way until I met her parents. Her mother dressed identically – to the point where other parents would study her movements as she walked across the room at a reception after student recitals.
It was a classic case of “Like mother, like daughter.” And her father seemed to revel in it.
21. That’s enough from you!
A girl in my 7th grade class was really bright, but almost never turned in her homework, so she just skated by on test scores. One time, I commended her for helping another student who didn’t understand the assignment, only to realize that night that she didn’t do her own.
I called her parents in and quickly realized they’re the type that have an answer for everything, and were all to quick to put the responsibility on me, as if I should stand over their daughter to make sure she works.
I turned to ask the girl what she thought, since she had been completely quiet, and her parents began to answer for her again. I put my finger (index) up and said, “No, you’ve had your turn. I want to hear what she thinks about all this.”
Well, she apparently really appreciated that, because she went on for about 30 minutes about all her views on education. At the end, I kept her parents quiet and told her that if she’s willing to talk such a big game, she needs to back it up and do the work without her parents or me interfering.
She didn’t miss another assignment all year. Proud teacher moment.
22. Maintaining appearances?
Ninth grader thought she was entitled to an A despite her work not being A-quality work, let alone B-quality. Met her mom a few weeks into the school year, who happens to be on our board of directors. She also has a habit of treating teachers as if they’re lesser thans, and is essentially enabled by our school founder.
On top of that, her son, a senior at the time, didn’t earn college acceptance. However, our principal lied at graduation and said he’d gotten into a university he hadn’t actually been admitted to. Why? Because our school is touted as a college preparatory. Can’t possibly mar our good name!
23. ‘No more books in this household!’
When I was about 15 we had to fill in “reading logs” for English class, where we would keep records of all the books we read in our free time. I actually loved reading, but had lost my library privileges at school because I kept losing books. When I told my teacher that I couldn’t fill out the log because I had nothing to read, she got irate and told me to borrow books from my parents. She wouldn’t believe me when I said that my stepfather had banned books from the house, and I kept getting in trouble for my non-compliance. At some point there was a parents evening of some kind, and my teacher met my mum. During meetings like this, my mother would usually try to make the teachers feel sorry for her by talking about how difficult and awful I was the whole time. My teacher never talked to me about it explicitly, but after that meeting she started bringing me books from her own personal collection to read. It was actually really cool, because she’d often let me read something right after she’d finished it, and then we would discuss the book together. She would always pass it off as “oh, I thought you might enjoy this one” but I was the only kid in the class that she did that for, and I know that it was because she felt sorry for me after realising what my parents were like. She was a really good teacher, and I’m still grateful for the extra attention she gave me.
24. ‘Miracle’ is now an excuse?
Had a kid that you looked at and it was very much a “lights are on but nobody is home” sort of feeling. I teach High School so sometimes that’s just the phase they are in but this one was basically living perpetually in that mode. Kid has an IEP (individualized educational plan) which is a legal special education doc, I can’t reveal what was in there but it was, suffice to say, generic. So it feels like there are pieces missing.
Days go on, this kid is the gold standard of “something is up” — completely illegible handwriting to the point it doesn’t resemble writing, you ask about what we are doing in class and the answer is so random and off task that if the kid didn’t look and act fairly child-like for their age you would assume hardcore drug use…but this kid, if anything, had Ralph Wiggum genes and didn’t know what drugs were.
Mom comes to Back to School night which is supposed to be 5 minutes with the class of parents, a nice “How do you do” and everyone moves on. She corners me. Immediately starts telling me about her concerns that I don’t fully appreciate her miracle baby who was mute until 8, didn’t walk until 4, walked backwards first, and had an IQ of about 60— they told her this kid would never make it in school and didn’t I think you just COULDN’T TELL ANYTHING WAS EVER DELAYED…because this is a MIRACLE. That’s why she blocked all mention of those conditions from the documents. Because people would never guess otherwise. MIRACLE.
When the word “miracle” comes up from a parent it always explains a lot.
25. Kids don’t deserve any of this
My best friend is a teacher. He told about this one kids parents he met. The kid was insanely smart(12th), genius level, he would finish his work and just play on his phone or talk to friends. But he had zero homework turn in rate. My friend requested to meet his parents, ended up finding out that his father would beat him repeatedly, and the kid would never truly go home, but rather take up working instead of being home with his father. It was sad because the kid admitted that he was capable of of doing his homework, but he was to scared to, and just didn’t have to will to face his dad.
Apparently later the kid came back to meet a couple teacher(including my friend), he rolled up in a very fancy car, I guess he made it out somewhere.
26. Parenting – done right
Student Teaching for high school seniors and juniors I had this guy that had no specific problems just unfortunately very low intelligence. But this guy worked his butt off. Never a late assignment, did all extra credit that was offered (usually extra credit is done by those who don’t need it and ignored by those who do need it), made flash-cards for like every test and quiz even though I never said to. Model student, just had low test scores. If it was an assignment that could be done with time and effort, he did it, unfortunately tests aren’t like that and that’s where he had the most problems.
Back To School Night comes along and I meet his dad, an NCO in the Marines. Curteous, well spoken, and completely knowledgeable about all of his son’s up coming assignments and grades.
Totally made sense. Kid is getting through with hard work and dedication and pulling off a B average. Amazing what support from parents can do. In most cases, a kid like this would probably be failing most of his classes.
27. Daddy’s boy
I have one little boy who is strange. He either sits in a corner muttering to himself, or he’s trying to hug the life out of other kids. His twin sister is also in our class and he needs to be reminded often that he is inappropriately touching her. He is 5, but he can’t do anything; he freaks out about having to put his own shoes on, putting away his things, everything. On top of all of that, he will only eat PB&J sandwiches, so at school it’s just J.
And then I met his dad. “Ooooooh my bebe you awe da cuuuutest bebe in the whole wowold! You don’t have to do one single fing when Daddy’s HEEEEEERE!!!!”
And then it clicked.
One of my students is safe-playing. He won’t try any new ideas while doing maths and would frequently look out to applying some formulas. I used to think that he genuinely is less creative than others, but at times, particularly when playing games, he would show bursts of real brilliance.
When I met his mother, it clicked why. The mother burst into tears saying she was afraid what would happen if the child would fail. She really desperately wanted him to succeed and because of this desire has all but sealed closed his chances of success. He is so afraid of failure that he doesn’t even try.
29. ‘Ah-ha!’ moments
One of those “ah-ha!” moments; had an eighth grade student. Great kid, 100% responsible, academically talented – and would always speak in short clipped sentences and look like he was a frightened deer about to bolt.
Had a conference with him and his parents together in which the kid was supposed to be leading the conference, reflecting on his growth and identifying his challenges. Every time the kid opened his mouth to say something, he’d get halfway through the sentence and mom would finish it for him. Poor kid was always trying to get ideas out quickly so he wouldn’t be interrupted!
I was a teacher in a deaf school for many years. Kids lived on campus as well. I would take the kids home for visits on weekends.
One kid was a major behavior problem and always screamed and yelled and broke things and was just generally all around disruptive.
We got along better than most staff did so I volunteered to took him home one weekend when he missed his van.
When I got to his house none of his family members even looked at him.
He was a teenager by this point.
The family had never taken the time to learn sign language, so no-one could actually communicate with him.
Yeah, all his “problems” made a lot of sense to me at that point.