When I ask a teacher, "What is the biggest problem you face?"
The answer — there has never been an exception — is "parents."
That is certainly a recent phenomenon.
My parents were not a problem for my teachers, nor were the parents of my friends. We were afraid of what our parents would do if a teacher reported a problem to them. Therefore, we did our best to not provoke such reports (girls succeeding much better than boys).
But that was then, and this is now.
Today, the indignant parent who rises, knee-jerk, to their child's defense at the slightest whiff of a classroom problem is ubiquitous.
Why is that?
It is because today's parents do not believe in free will. Rather, they believe in parenting determinism, which is to say, they believe in Sigmund Freud, the so-called "father of modern psychology." It was Freud who proposed that every glitch in a person's behavior could be traced back to a dysfunctional upbringing, mostly perpetrated by a mother who was either too smothering or too distant.
Allow me to provide a real-life contrast: My mother, when I told her that a teacher obviously didn't like me and was treating me unfairly, said, without hesitation, "Good. It's high time you learned how to deal with people who don't like you. You'll encounter them throughout your life." I was in the sixth grade. Twelve years young.
Today's parent, given the same situation, is almost certain to travel to the school and confront the teacher in question. Her child, she says, "would never do such a thing," or some equivalent hogwash. She reasons that if he is at fault for anything, then she is somehow deficient. She is haunted by Freud.
When I continued to complain about said teacher, Mom told me, "You must have done something to make her not like you. You'd better correct the problem before your report card comes out or there will be consequences." She was spot on, and I corrected the problem.
Today, the problem is never the child ... according to the child's parents, that is. And so, the problem, today, must be corrected by the teacher. Thus are today's children deprived of the gift my mother gave me: to wit, the gift of personal responsibility, which, because children are generally loathe to accept it, must be forced upon them.
Oh, and by the way, when it is so forced, children almost always complain (frequently accompanied by weeping) that they are being treated unfairly, which is simply proof that all children are near-sighted. As my stepfather used to say, "You don't see past the end of your own nose."
The end result of this unwitting belief in the musings of Freud, who can be credited for inventing psychobabble, is that the wrong person — the teacher — is assigned responsibility for the problem. Thus, the wrong person is motivated to solve it, which she often does by simply not informing a child's parents that problems exist. Which further means that when a teacher finally does inform the child's parents of a problem, the parents say, "He's never had a problem with any other teacher."
And around and around it goes.
Write to family psychologist John Rosemond at The Leadership Parenting Institute, 420 Craven St., New Bern, N.C. 28560 or email email@example.com. Due to the volume of mail, not every question will be answered.