Parents can be a nightmare for teachers, especially when they feel the need to micromanage their child's education. Those that go to the opposite extreme of just not caring aren't any better, though.
A nice balance of letting the child learn to operate independently and caring enough to keep them safe may seem like an unattainable goal after reading some of these parent-teacher nightmares!
Reddit user murdocnickles asked:
You Really Should Care
My mother had been terminally ill for two years. She had a heart attack and went into a coma. I lived 500 miles away, so I packed up and hurried through the long journey to make sure I got there before she died.
Unbelievably, she hung on for another four days, so I was gone for two full school weeks. I did all of my sub plans electronically, and I had an assignment for each day, to be turned in by the end of the day.
I had one child, with an IEP, who did jack crap the entire year. Well, you can imagine what he did while I was gone. If you can do less than jack crap, he did less than jack crap.
His mother called to speak with me after she saw that he had zeros for the assignments that were due while I was gone. I gently explained the reason for my absence, that my mother had died, and that I was not in the classroom to monitor his instruction.
Mother proceeds to rage on me. She tells me "I don't care if your mother died or not, my boy does not deserve zeros "
Hockey Is A Dangerous Sport
Had a parent accuse me of hitting her child and bruising him. Was called into the admin's office and asked what happened. I explained that the incident the parent is referencing where she thinks he was hit happened in a different room, across the building nowhere near me. It was so clear cut untrue I wasn't even asked a followup question. They just said "Oh that's true, you can leave." Understand as a teacher being accused of striking a child you are almost always dismissed on leave while they look into it unless the claim is just flat out unbelievable. That's how clear it was I did nothing.
So she continues claiming I hit the child and saying she's gonna get a lawyer and sue unless I am fired at once. The school stands their ground saying they know for a fact I did nothing and will not fire me for no reason. We later find out her child did in fact have a bruise on his arm. He ALSO had a hockey game that same night before he went home. Just guess how he got that bruise. The school even pointed that out and still she continued to say I did it and she would sue.
My principal calls me into her office and explains that the parent is still accusing me, they know I did nothing and not to worry as they were going to get their lawyers on it. This whole process took months and only ended when the school's lawyers contacted her and essentially said bring us to court if you want to waste your money.
At Least Most Of Them Aren't This Bad
Parent teacher conference: Father pulls out his phone and looks at it the entire 25 minutes. Could visibly see the kid deflate as his father found his phone more important than his son. I felt awful, and got a new understanding for the boy's bad behavior in class.
Second parent teacher conference: Mom fuming with anger and screams at, and belittles daughter for 25 minutes straight. Daughter is crying all the time and is completely annihilated. The daughter's crime? She had done a crossword in class when I asked her to read instead, she generally acted like a normal kid.
No funny stories here. Over all though, I've had a lot of really supportive and reasonable parents.
Edit: I have gotten a lot of questions about the crossword thing, you can tlread the thread for elaboration.
I'd say what my real failure in this situation was not mentioning the crossword, but not standing up to the mother and just declaring "enough".
I failed the daughter in that moment not because I mentioned the crossword, but because I as an adult did not stand up for her when she was being torn apart by her mother. To be honest, I didn't know what to say or do, so I just froze and waited it out. I have thought a lot about this incident after it happened, and hope I have the skills and guts to handle it differently if something like this happens again.
Definitely Know Where He Gets It
I have a student who does f*ck all and laughs at me when I try to talk to him about it. Parents wouldn't answer phone calls so I made sure to talk to the dad at parents evening (had 120 kids to see in 2.5hrs so cannot always see everyone). When I talk to his dad what does he do? Snigger at me like his son does and says nothing else! At least I know where he gets it from!
Paper Trail To The Rescue
My school had a policy all tests under 70% needed to be signed by a parent and returned to the teacher within 3 days. Parent and student didn't comply. I called, e mailed, and sent notes. No response. Finally progress reports go out and the next day mom finds me greeting students at the door. She decides this is the perfect time to rip into me and let me know how I've failed her student.
She did this all while I had a class full of students. When I finally got a word in I said this wasn't the tine for us to discuss her daughter's private information especially in front of all her classmates and I would love for to email me some times she was available to meet and shut the door.
She then went down to the admin office and unleashed on the principal. I was pulled from my class to come to the "meeting." I was verbally assaulted for about 2 minutes while my principal sat quietly watching and typing while she pulled up all my e-mails to the parent and checked my communication log (online spreadsheet we kept on the server outlining all communication that was phone call or notes).
The principal found no fault with me asked the parent if she was going to keep her daughter enrolled at our school, a private Catholic school, and then had parent go over and resign parent code of ethics contract. I went back to my classroom quite triumphantly. Parent ending pulling kid over Christmas break to a school that fit their needs more.
"Just Try Harder"
A mom asked me why her son who is absent from my class 19/20 schools days every month was failing my class. I said he needed to come to school in order to pass the class, and she insisted that I was responsible for his failing & that I needed to try harder to teach him when he was there.
I wrote a different kid up for skipping my class (he was with another teacher & lied that he had my permission) & he got 4 days of ISS (not in my control to assign punishments) & the mom emailed & insisted: a) her child "did nothing wrong" bc he was still on school grounds and b) that I was "out to get him"
I am an organic chemistry professor at a college. I had to inform a mother that I can not discuss her son's grades with her but that she should speak to her son if she had any concerns. The student in question showed up to very few classes and didn't have enough lab hours to sit for the final.
I Don't Think Any Class Can Prepare You For That
A parent told myself and my coworkers that she didn't believe black people could properly raise children.
All my coworkers in this meeting were black, and mothers.
It was my first year of teaching, and my bougie private college education courses never covered "dealing with racists," so I just slid under the table as far as I could until the meeting was ended by a coworker.
BONUS STORY: I had an 8th grade student with a GPS ankle bracelet to match his difficult behavior. When mom came into the meeting, she was so high she started making up Bible verses.
Practice Makes Perfect
I'm a private teacher, I teach English and French. Dad brings his kid for the first time, boss introduces me as the teacher. Dad looks sceptical, (I should add that I'm 22) proceeds to ask me how I am qualified to work there, in a very offensive way. I told him that I finished at the best university in my country and I had a degree in French and English studies. Then he started kind of compensating by saying 'Well, I too have a language exam ya know.'
Few months pass by, the little girl is very sweet and she's smart but it's obvious that her parents don't care to make her learn the words or help her practice, and I can't work wonders only an hour once a week. So dad comes in furiously because his daughter got a C at the end of the term, and basically says that his kid is not stupid enough to only achieve a C (true, btw), so therefore I'm the one who's not qualified to teach and he doubts if I can even speak English properly. I explained to him that first of all maybe if I couldn't speak English, I wouldn't be working as an English teacher, and second of all, all the kid needed was 30 minutes of practice every day which they as parents were responsible for. Needless to say, I don't teach that girl anymore.
It's All Your Fault
I had a mom in the front office, demanding to see me. She wanted to fight me because I refused to tie her son's shoe. He was in 8th grade and not in special ed.
Seen Some Things In 13 Years
This is my 13th year teaching, and I've had some doozies. I think this one takes the cake though:
I had a parent go through the phone book and start calling all of the people with MY LAST NAME because she was upset that her child *may* need to be retained for first grade. The only reason I knew about this, is that she reached my parents, who refused to give her my phone number. (And then who called me in a panic about this crazy parent trying to find me).
Not A Great Example
The classic loud custody arguements at dropoff, in front of the whole class (and the mortified child). Just super icky and trashy.
There was also the one who never picked them up and expected them to walk home in -40C "to teach them independence". She was just sleeping at all hours as a result of depression. I hate to say that was "the worst" because it was a mental health illness that was obviously reported ASAP.
Only So Many Chances
I'm a professor at a university. Several years ago I was teaching an online class during the summer break. As you may guess, these tend to be rather intensive and require not only a great deal of time but the ability to work independently and be self-motivated. Since I'm not physically present to remind students to do their work, if you have a tendency to slack then it's pretty easy to fall very, very far behind quickly.
One of my students somehow missed the first two weeks of the four week course, despite multiple reminders and constant check-ins. It was a bit surprising, since the student was not attending my school but taking the course as a transfer credit (the student's home university did not have a course in my field so he had to arrange months beforehand, with my help, to have the credits approved). In the end, it turned out the student had lost the password for the website and hadn't wanted to contact IT by phone or by live chat to have it reset. However, the IT department couldn't really reset the password by email so the student apparently had their father do the phone call. This should have been a warning of things to come.
Now, I get it. My students are often young and inexperienced and can make frankly ludicrous decisions. I'm pretty forgiving, so I arranged with him a revised schedule to make-up the missing work. I also gave him a few other options, so he could fairly make-up the missed points if the revised schedule was too onerous. I do this regularly for all my students, I want them to do well and I want to be fair. As long as you do the work you get a fair grade. I kept in touch with the student regularly and reminded them of the revised schedule, the other options available, and, of course, what would happen if the work wasn't completed.
Guess what. The make-up work wasn't completed and the student failed. It was a shame, because the student had otherwise good marks in the around 35-40% of the work that was completed. The student, who had stopped responding to my messages during the last week of classes, suddenly bombarded me with emails in a panic. It turns out they would not be able to graduate without the credits and could I give them another chance?
Nope. I told the student they had their chance and if they thought I was being unfair they could bring it up with the head of the department with a grade appeal.
The next day I got an odd message. The student had given my email to their parents and now I was receiving constant emails from a person who no doubt is the bane of every poor customer service representative on the planet. She raged that I was a monster to fail her little baby. Didn't I know how hard he worked, on his summer break no less. He really wanted to graduate with his friends this term and his life would be ruined if he didn't walk with them. A real professor would have ensured the work was done. I was a incompetent fool to not recognize her child's genius and I should grade her child on the work completed and not factor in the missing work. My course was a joke, an easy A, and I should be thankful her child deigned to join in because I clearly didn't get students like her child ever before.
I didn't respond, since that would violate the student's right to privacy. I did notify the student that someone claiming to be their parent was sending me inappropriate emails. The student responded that their mother had a point and would be conducting negotiations on their behalf from now on. Knowing that neither seemed particularly capable at this point, I told the student that there were forms that needed to be filled out before I could even acknowledge they had taken my class. However, I didn't provide links to these forms because clearly basic computing was beyond the student and their parent.
So, I continued to ignore the raging parent. Who started to try to play on my sympathies. Her child was disabled, didn't I understand how hard life was for a person with autism? Fun fact. I got the autism and a Ph. D. So when the student followed-up, asking if I what I heard changed my mind I brought up how the Disability Resource Center could provide aid in the future, since they had been such a help to little ol' autistic me. This, oddly, got them off my back. Sort of. The student appealed all the way to the top, lying on the appeal forms in a way that was easily disprovable because my little autistic mind knows to keep records and messages of all my students. I could also demonstrate how many chances the student had and how other students who had fallen behind had been able to catch up with these allowances. The appeal failed and somewhere out there my student and their mommy and daddy are probably still co-depending away with a big old F on their records.
Let Them Be Adults
I work in Student Services at a pretty big University, we legally aren't allowed to release information about our (adult) students to anyone except them without their written consent to do so. We get SO many helicopter parents calling up either on behalf of or without their childs knowledge.
I think the worst I've ever encountered was a woman who had called regarding her son. We told her that we can't tell her anything without his consent, so she said she'd get him to contact us. We get an email from not his student email address, feels a bit iffy so we probe a bit and ask them to confirm some things that only he would know regarding his studies. Turns out she had made a fake email account to get permission.
She then called multiple times in a row trying to get different operators to get a different answer, she had a friend call on her behalf and also had friends come in (she lived in a different country) and talk to us on her behalf. We could not tell her anything.
Eventually, we spoke to the student about it and he sort of knew it was happening but didn't know the extent. He gave us permission to talk to her regarding his finances and student Visa conditions, but we aren't allowed to discuss grades or enrollments. She did not enjoy being told that, to say the least.
Honestly, if your kid has made it to University cut the strings.
Still Have To Do The Work
7th grade science here. Right before winter break the 7th grade team is informed we will get a new student, totally fine. It's the school nurse's kid. She has a 504 plan with the normal routine accommodations but includes one where she is allowed to wear hats/headwear in the classroom. As far as accommodations go, this isn't that bizzare.
Fastforward to the week we are back from winter break. I introduce her to the room and move on with the lesson. She reports to mom that I paraded her around the room and embarassed her. I receive a LONG email from her and i get to have a little meeting with the principal about the incident. Students in the room were asked to write statements and everything. I was mortified and furious. Thankfully nothing came of it as my students told the truth and that was that.
During the next two months she turns in wildly incomplete, blank, or otherwise subpar work. She would claim to not understand how to turn in the work. But the whole school turns in digital work the same way and there are no problems in her other classes woth this.
As that is going on the weekly emails began. Which became daily emails. Every day a long ramble of an email from the mother saying I am not following the accommodations her daughter needs, that I am not being nice to her. Eventually the guidance counselor and assistant principal take turns sitting in my room during that class for a week to observe. Still, the emails come. Some demanding a one on one meeting and all i can think is HELL NO!
We offer a parent teacher conference with all of her teachers but she refuses. Eventually she gets her wish though by formally accusing me of not following the 504 accommodations plan, which is pretty serious if that was the case.
At the meeting a provide all the evidence I had logged, which is what I did for all students that needed accommodations and what does this parent do? She starts sobbing! Y'all, i was so done with her at this point amd thankfully thats where it all ended. The daughter was eventually put into an online class and spent the time she would have been with me in the library. That mom was straight up crazy.
Medications Are Prescribed For A Reason
This one kindergartener started having pretty severe behavior problems halfway through the school year. His parents had decided that he was magically cured of all his problems and pulled him off all of his behavior medications.
He would hit and spit on other kids, run out of the building, chuck chairs in the classroom, and chuck his lunch everywhere. His mother's solution to all of this: give him a box of granola bars. She tried to say he was just hangry and wanted me to treat train him to misbehave.
Last I heard, he got so bad he actually had to be sent to another school to be in a behavior-focused classroom. The granola bars did nothing.
Get Out While You Can
Last schoolyear(2017-2018), I temporarily taught Jr. High at a Catholic school which I was essentially forced to "resign" from(I had a psychotic principal, and it's a very long story).
Anyway, aside from the principal, most of the parents were crazy helicopter parents who thought there was nothing wrong with their kids at all. With this being said, there was a husband, and wife couple who made my life a living hell(and probably cost me my job).
Their daughter was a Straight A student, and very well-behaved, but she would go home, and tell her parents that my teaching was "ineffective", and wouldn't prepare her for high school(it was my first official year as a teacher too). Anyway, I guess the parents were secretly emailing the principal bold-faced lies about me. Some of the claims were I would "play on the computer" during class, or I would purposely let students argue with each other to get a "rise", and other completely bizarre lies. They did this to get me fired.
My principal told me she didn't necessarily believe them, but since they were the "backbone" of donations for our school(AKA rich parents), she was going to be extremely strict on me, and micromanage every single thing I do with a strict observation which would probably terminate me, or she would give me the option to resign with a severance check(this happened right before our Christmas Break too).
I took the money, and ran.
She Can Barely Speak Korean Yet
I worked at an English kindergarten in Korea for a couple months. One girl was 3 years old and got a 98/100 on her test. I had a mom come in and chew me out. I couldn't understand her. The only English word she kept saying was "WHY." I felt really bad because I couldn't explain myself properly, but hell lady, she's 3 years old. She can barely speak Korean.
Taking Responsibility Is An Important Life Skill
Broadly, the parents who don't believe their children made any mistakes, didn't do their work, or said or did anything bad. Then in turn, blaming me for being a bad teacher while cussing me out.
Not only is this incredibly frustrating and demeaning, but now the kid knows they can not only get away with stuff, but disrespect you in the process since their parents essentially gave permission.