I write to inform you that I have been disappointed with the poor attitude and lack of ambition you have consistently demonstrated in your child’s time at The ______ School/ College. And whilst this correspondence begins in a negative fashion, you may well feel patronised and be angry, and if I inspire those feelings within you, I am glad. It’s about time you had some strong emotions about the education of your own child because, frankly, you must try harder.
To begin with, you could actually attend parents’ evening. You may believe that it is ‘optional’ but you need to start telling yourself that it’s not. How do you think your child feels when all the other students rush up to book an appointment with their teachers, their parents care, but you are too busy to attend and rubbish the views of the adults who spend 4 hours a week instructing your offspring in a subject they once knew nothing about. You insult both your own child and their teachers. By not attending you are sending out a very clear message: I cannot be bothered. Therefore how can you expect your child to be bothered? You are not a good role model.
It is simply not good enough for you to come to a couple of Year 11 meetings and then be surprised that your child is not meeting expected standards. It is not the teacher’s fault that you have not been interested in the intervening years. Of course, it is nice to meet you for the first time in five years but, dear parent, you have left it too late. You sowed the seeds of apathy a long time ago and now it has taken root in your own child. You need to have a more consistent attitude.
Please do not use your own dislike of school or academia as an excuse for your lack of interest or participation in the progress of your child. It is not ok to say to your child ‘Oh, that subject is boring anyway,’ or ‘I never liked school.’ Newsflash. It’s not about you. Yes, you may have hated school, I am sorry you had a hard time and for what it’s worth, the education system is a lot more supportive than it used to be, however, don’t infect your own child with your low expectations and pessimistic attitude. Try being a grown up. Keep your insecurities about the past inside and give your child the benefit of a life you didn’t have.
Also, you have to stop this ‘we’re friends’ relationship you have with your son/ daughter. You are not friends. You are an adult. Your child is exactly that. Even when they are sixteen. You should know better. I understand that they can get a bit out of control but don’t lower your expectations of their behaviour or the success you expect in them. Show them that you want to help, no matter how terribly they behave. They are vulnerable, pretending to be the big I am all the time is exhausting. And if you don’t know how to get through to them come and talk to us, we’ll launch a two pronged attack on them. Of course they won’t like it but you need to be an adult. They don’t know best, they will not thank you, but it’s your job and you need to start doing it properly.
Lastly, please do not just phone up or come in when you want to complain about something. You have no idea how much time I put into making sure your child is getting a good education. Please do not complain when I give away free tickets to a trip that has a direct impact on your child’s GCSE grades and then the coach is late back after an accident on the motorway. I did not cause the accident. Please do not complain about me when I find your child smoking in the playground and punish them for it (because you decided we should give them another chance – I thought about it and decided not to). Please do not vilify me when I report that your child is underachieving – I am being honest, I want you to get involved and help, I will not lie about it to make you and your child feel better. And when your child leaves school, after years of doing no homework or independent learning, please do not blame me for the low exam marks that they score. Just know that I worked them as hard as I could but I could not come round your house every night to help them revise because I have my own children. Believe me, I feel guilty that I give time to my own children over yours but please know that I wait until mine have gone to bed and then start working for yours all over again.
I expect that after reading this letter you will now decide that you hate me and isolate yourself from your child’s education even further. How dare I speak to you like this? You’re right – I wouldn’t dare – that’s why I won’t ever send you this letter and I will keep my contempt for your tragic parenting to myself because, even though I get to see how your shitty attitude impacts on your child every day, it is none of my business.