Articles are available for reprint as long as the author is acknowledged: Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Parents Expect Teachers to do the Parent's Job

“Obedience is the foundation of all learning.” Ben Franklin

Many children are told by their parents to eat their food and they don’t. Their bed time is 7:30pm and they mess around until 9 or10 o’clock. “Brush your teeth,” and the child merely pretends or does not do it at all. Finally the child crossed the line, looks straight at his parents and says, “No.” Most of this happens before they leave the toddler stage.

Too often students listen better to their teachers than to their own parents. The parents are not indignant about being ignored by their children. They are not ashamed of their inability to get their children to listen to them. These parents feel the lack of children following their commands is acceptable for them and the future of their children. It is not.

The explanation for their nonchalant attitude in disciplining is parents no longer view this as their responsibility. Eventually the child will reach school age and the teachers will train them. The modern parents lack of anxiety about the future of their child should be frightening to all of us. Functioning adults are necessary for a free society.

Teachers may have good intentions to change the bad habits of students but this is a monumental undertaking. The foundation of these behaviors was laid at home before they entered school. Parents will continue to take and uninvolved, lazy approach to disciplining until they realize they have the power to develop good habits to maximize the chances of the child’s success. Many parents ignore this reality as it is labor intensive.

It is easier to think everything will naturally fall into place as their child grows older. This may be true in a primitive culture although it is absolute nonsense in a highly civilized society. Skills and habits need to be demonstrated, practiced and perfected under the supervision of the parents to shape certain aspects of the child’s character.

Today’s parents believe they should not be held accountable for their child’s actions although they are ready to scrutinize each and every teacher’s impact on their child’s performance. They question every teacher’s methods to see how they are going to improve their child’s grades and behavior. Some parents even want to wash their hands of any and all responsibility for the child’s performance at school.

From the first day a child enters school, the handprint of the parent can be seen on the behavior of the child. Many children are well socialized knowing what to do at school although they may act the opposite at home. The inconsistent enforcement of the rules at home encourages the child to play manipulative games. These games push the limits enough to make the child think he won while the parents throw their hands up in frustration defeat. Many parents find it easier and more comfortable to isolate themselves from their children by doing their own activities without the children.

The children “win” disregarding the power of their parents but “lose” by developing bad habits. Instead of eating their entire meal, they eat only what they want. They often refuse to eat breakfast and play numerous games to avoid going to bed on time. These children don’t even follow commands and act as if they do not care about the punishments meted out. The parents are not only inconsistent but they begin to feel hopeless and powerless. Their last desperate hope is that their children will outgrow bad behavior by going to school.

Children may make a turn about in front of a new authority figure like a teacher but eventually their bad habits will resurface. Going to bed too late and not eating correctly results in a lack of energy, frequent illness and inability to concentrate. Frequent swings of attitude and performance in school can be traced to little structure and inconsistent discipline at home. The victim is the child.

When parents realize increasing structure and expectations at home positively affects the child’s education, they will correct the mistakes of the past. For many loving parents this empowers them to be more demanding and less wimpy in dealing with their children.

When parents become accountable for doing their parental duties they stop relying on teachers to be surrogate parents. This results in their children doing better in school.

The most beneficial activity parents can do to assist their child in school is to teach them to listen. When children follow the instructions of their fathers and mothers they are more likely to follow the directions of their teachers. In school the child who listens and does what he is asked usually does better than the child that does not. The ability to listen assures success in school.

Dr. Maglio is the author of Invasion Within and Essential Parenting. He is a psychotherapist and the owner/director of Wider Horizons School. Visit:



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