It started with her math teacher. “She doesn’t teach in a way that I can understand”. Our daughter, who struggles at school, was having a really hard time in math, and her teacher had a very traditional teaching style that was not working for her. We spoke with our older daughter, who is a great students and who had had this same math teacher. She confirmed that she wasn’t a great teacher and had a style of teaching that would be very hard for our younger daughter to keep up with. So, we spoke with the school and they switched her to another class — our school is amazing that way.
But then it was her art teacher. Our daughter simply didn’t like her. She didn’t like the way she held her accountable to deadlines and was firm with her when she felt our daughter was not paying attention in class. She started to leave her camera off during class (it was online at the time) and she would not return emails the teacher sent. We had far less sympathy that time around.
We told her you cannot treat teachers like that. When they send you an email or tell you to do something, you have to do it. It’s not optional — you just have to. It’s a matter of respect. Our daughter didn’t see it that way. In her view, the teacher was disrespecting her (I’m not 100% sure how) and she was choosing not to engage with her. She said it would ‘trigger’ her. We said that was completely inappropriate and not OK, but — at the end of the day — what could we do. Our daughter is 17 years old and we can’t force her to interact with someone if she doesn’t want to.
We ended up telling the school that they could deduct marks or suspect her, but their hands were tied too. They said she wasn’t being disruptive and, especially during covid, they didn’t have a lot of options in taking away marks or discipling the kids. So, our daughter just kind of ignored this teacher throughout the term.
It drove us crazy. I hate to sound old fashion, but I feel that teachers deserve respect. And kids need to learn to give that, even if they are not loving the situation or their personalities are clashing a bit.
I’m seeing this as somewhat ubiquitous with our daughter. Anyone who she does not get along with — they trigger her and then she wants nothing to do with them. My wife and I try to help her to see things from their perspective and to be able to interact with them even if it’s not ideal. She will have none of this. Again, I feel old saying this, but didn’t we have a little more flexibility in these situations when we were young.
For me, it comes down to resilience. Can our kids bounce back after an awkward interaction with a teacher. For our daughter, the unfortunate answer seems to be no. And this worries me a lot. What about when she is working with a boss or colleagues with whom there is a little friction. And even for social relationships — will she write friends off at the first hint of discomfort?
I’ve tried to figure out what may be causing it. Is it unique to our daughter? I don’t think so; it feels that I hear this from more and more parent. Have we empowered our kids too much? Maybe; there is a thin line between empowered and entitled and maybe we’ve tipped them a little too far.
Sometimes I wonder about how they will handle the future. I’m generally an optimistic person, and I do hold out hope that, as they mature, they will become more tolerant and resilient. I sure hope so.
This post was previously published on A Parent Is Born.
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