Thursday, October 21, 2010

Three for Thursday: Jail for Missing Parent-Teacher Conferences, Former Bully Target Asks Parents to Help, and Spoiling the Kids

Miss Parent-Teacher Conference Go Directly to Jail?

Say you’re a single working parent in the Detroit area, or you and your child’s other parent both work and neither of you can’t show up for a parent-teacher conference, and perhaps you're not in contact with your kid's teacher even though your kid's not doing well. In that case, the district attorney in your area thinks you should be incarcerated. Because putting a parent behind bars makes a bad situation better, right?

According to the Detroit News, the Wayne County prosecutor is trying to convince the Detroit City Council, as well as the county commission and the state legislature to implement her proposal which “would require parents to attend at least one conference per year or face three days in jail. Parents of those excelling in school would be exempt, as would those whose health issues make travel difficult and those ‘actively engaged’ with teachers through e-mail, phone calls or letters.”

While I think parents being involved in their children’s education is very important (I wear the "Bad Guy" hat all the time when I inquire about the Picket Fence Post kids' homework and school papers and pester them until I see the pieces of dead trees), I shuddered when I read comments like this one from the Detroit city council president who said, “If you aren’t involved in your child’s education, and he or she is failing, it’s child abuse.” Seriously? Child abuse?

Formerly Bullied Kid Asks Parents to Intervene

The web site Lemondrop recently ran a guest blog post from a now-23-year-old woman who started getting harassed by her peers when she was in third grade. The torment lasted all the way through high school. She once asked a teacher for help, but that teacher was unable to make a difference in the student's situation. The writer said:

“Even after I sought help, the bullying didn't stop. From third grade until the age of 16, I was bullied every day. I became increasingly walled off. In class, I would sit in the back, too afraid to say a word, in case anyone would laugh. I tried to become invisible.

Every day, the bullied shrink further into themselves.”

Now that she’s an adult, she’s pleading with today’s parents to step in and stop it if they see or hear about it happening. “I was one scared and lonely girl,” she wrote. “Looking back, I wish I had known that I wasn't alone, that I wasn't the only one going through such a dreadful experience. That's why now, as a well-adjusted adult, I'm choosing to write this letter.”

Author: Stop Spoiling, Start Parenting

The Motherhood web site held an online Q&A with Richard Bromfield, the author of the new book, How to Unspoil Your Child, Fast.

One of Bromfield’s quips was apt about the pressures parents face to act a certain way or buy their kids certain things:

“. . . [A] majority of parents see their own children as spoiled (and also feel handcuffed to do anything about it). It, I think, has been a creeping process that has been fueled mostly by the influence of advertising and media, making everyone want and need more. Previous generations indulged less (or differently) but it can’t be that those parents were good and we are not. We are up against huge and powerful forces that lead us to indulge.”

Whenever I think about this subject – something of which I’m about as guilty as anyone else at times – I think about how my kids are always telling me how bad they’ve got it as compared to all those "other kids" whose mothers, they tell me, are always around to drive their offspring wherever they want whenever they want, frequently schedule awesome sleepovers, sign the kids up for any and all activities their hearts desire (and don't cruelly limit them like we do), give them all cell phones (except for my kids) and whose moms (this is key) don’t do work like I do, even though I work from home.

While I have to listen to my kids tell me how far I’m falling short in comparison to their friends’ mothers, I like to say that they’re just learning to make do with less . . . less of mom completely sacrificing every second of every day for their own, personal enjoyment and enrichment and teaching them to do a little bit more on their own. Making their own snack after school, making their own school lunches and breakfasts in the morning . . . all good things, at least in my book, even if I don't win the Mother of the Year award.


  1. The jail time for missing parent-teacher conference is a very, very scary idea. We're on the same page here, I know. And both of us are fortunate enough to have a tiny bit of flexibility in our schedules to make those 1:25 p.m. conferences, at least a few times a year. But if you've got a job that doesn't let you leave for an hour, should you really go to jail? As you say, yeah, that'll make it better.

  2. I agree. This proposition is extremely frightening. What if you're a single parent and you're sent to jail, who takes care of your kid or kids then??