As a girl, the thought of my parents meeting with my teachers made me queasy. What if my teacher said something negative about me–a people-pleasing student? How would my parents respond? My teachers usually shared a good report, though sometimes they mentioned I was a wee bit too “social.”
As a former educator and current mom, I’ve had the privilege to sit on both sides of the table. As a teacher, conferences with parents whose children excelled flowed smoothly. Meeting with parents whose children struggled with academics or behavior was, well, sometimes less pleasurable. Gracious words and a listening ear often helped us work through differences when questions or disagreements arose.
Parent conferences are scheduled for this week at our kids’ school. As the mother of imperfect boy-children, I’ve had opportunities to practice what I learned as a teacher in these conferences. Memories of being on the teacher side of the table enable me to be empathetic. I want to come alongside our boys’ teachers and work together for what’s best for our guys.
The parent conference for one of our sons in particular has me biting my proverbial nails. This child has recently made some poor choices. I keep reminding myself I am his mother, and he is the one performing (or not) in the classroom. Raising children is an amazing blend of five parts loving, three parts letting go and ten parts insecurity laced with the question, “Am I doing/training/advising well enough?”
Yes, I’m in an active mothering season with our sons. Yes, things my hubby and I have said and done, and the consequences we’ve given for behaviors, has trained our sons. But, they are both at an age where they are making some of their own decisions. More and more of their training comes from how “life” responds to their choices.
At times, it’s hard not to take responsibility (read, “blame”) for their actions. But it’s freeing when I step back so they can learn from natural consequences that result from their choices. All that to say, when a teacher has to share a less than positive observation about one of my children, it isn’t necessarily a reflection on me as his mother. It shows that they are still being trained by life, which is sometimes a more effective teacher.
As a mom, I plan to sit on the parent side of the table with an open mind. Hopefully, the teachers will share some positive things about our sons. Realistically, we’ll also need to discuss some “areas needing improvement.” I plan to go into these meetings with a receptive heart and a perspective that opens my eyes to see how we can come alongside our children and help them grow into the young men God created them to be.
Your Turn: How do you handle situations when others’ actions may reflect certain impressions about you? How do you prepare for them?