Radical parenting technique: holding your kids responsible for their behavior

Here’s an email I received after my show today:

Matt,

I’m a middle school teacher. I don’t live in your area but I heard your conversation today. I’d like to say that parental denial is a HUGE problem for teachers. I deal with their kids all day and when I attempt to tell them about the trouble their precious children cause in the class so often they resist. They REFUSE to believe that they are raising children with crappy attitudes who behave badly in the classroom. Some kids refuse to do ANY work and then their parents blame me for it. What happened to holding your kids responsible?? Sorry to rant but this really gets to me. I give my all for those kids but some of them just have NO interest in cooperating and their parents just aid and abed them. What is wrong with some of these people?? They want to find a thousand people and things to blame for their kids behavior…. except they never want to blame… THEIR KID.
Please don’t use my name if you use this.

I responded to this person privately.

But let’s explore the themes in her/his message.

You see, generally, when a kid acts like a jerk, we, as a country, engage in all sorts of philosophical contortions and mental gymnastics to figure out who we can blame for his jerkiness. Johnny cuts third period, or picks on the overweight kid in gym class, or shouts vulgarities at his teacher, or otherwise acts inappropriately, and we begin to weave our tangled Web of Blame; desperately attempting to pin the guilt for his malfeasance on some third party. Should we point to the teacher? Or the school system? Or TV? Video games? Perhaps the medical establishment ought to be called onto the mat for this one? Maybe the politicians in DC? What about the UN? The wealthy elite! Society! Society is to blame! Soon, we are hovering high above planet Earth, indicting all of God’s creation in this complicated game of Whodunit.

Yet, somehow, one lucky guy manages to shrink out the back door, while the rest of us smack each other with broken bottles and pool cues: Johnny. Johnny, the kid who actually did the bad thing. Why is it that we can blame the entire universe for a kid’s behavior, yet the kid who committed the infraction isn’t even included in that universe? Why can’t we ever explain the bad actions of a child by coming to the conclusion that the child chose to act that way, and ought to be the sole individual implicated?

Sure, he could have horrible teachers. Or he could be a victim of an unfair system. Or there could be a conspiracy against him.

Or, you know, he could just be a human being with free will who chooses to do the wrong things.

Sometimes there isn’t any need to add complexities to an issue that is really quite simple. Your kid is a human being, he has a brain, he makes choices; occasionally, or (in some cases) often, he makes the wrong choices. Sometimes that wrong choice needs to fall on his shoulders. We can discuss societal, systematic, and environmental factors that contribute to the overall picture, but his free will transcends all of that.

I am no apologist for the public school system. I’m not the president of the Government-Run Education Fan Club. I’m not in the club at all. In fact, I often find myself at odds with its more active members. I’m a home school advocate, but even I can recognize the impossible position we put teachers, like the one who emailed, in when we start from the premise that OUR special snowflakes could NEVER be responsible for their own actions. We discussed this predicament on my show today; I reiterated my “sometimes kids are just jerks” thesis, which also prompted this message from a concerned woman:

“Matt… what an awful thing to say. Kids can never be jerks.”

Yes. That’s real. An adult human actually typed that sentence. “Kids can never be jerks.” And we know what she really means when she says it: MY kid could never be a jerk.

This is the sort of parent that teachers have to deal with on a daily basis.

Teacher: “Ms. Johnson, your Billy cussed me out this afternoon when I tried to get him to take a test. His actions were inappropriate.”

Ms. Johnson: “Inappropriate?! How dare you! If he refused to do his school work right before verbally assaulting you, I’m sure he had a good reason. I’ll be reporting your bullying to the principal!”

I especially feel sorry for middle school teachers. God bless these brave souls. I’d rather be a guidance counselor to serial murderers at a maximum security prison than teach English at an American middle school. Good Lord in Heaven, middle school students can be absolutely horrible. They might be OK on an individual basis, but you mix all of them together, with all of that puberty and all of those hormones, and you’ve got the ingredients to bake yourself a Lord of the Flies flavored cake. Kids can be challenging at any age. People, in general, can behave badly when put together in large groups. It’s the mob effect, and it’s a very real phenomenon. But there’s something about middle school — it’s just different; it’s worse. A lot worse.

A case could be made for abolishing middle school entirely and banishing them all to a desert island, or another planet. You simply can’t put these kids in groups of more than four without half of them turning into rabid raccoons. Last week seven middle schoolers came to my door selling candy bars for a fundraiser for their soccer team. I turned the hose on them. What choice did I have?

I remember my days in 6th, 7th and 8th grade when parents would come to visit during class time. I’d look at the dad of the kid who made the substitute teacher cry only a few days before, or the mom of the girl who spends all day thinking of new ways to ostracize and humiliate her less popular female classmates, and I’d think, “do you people realize that you’re raising barbarians?”

Answer: no. But only because they don’t want to realize it.

I also recall being somewhat of a problem kid at that age myself. I didn’t do my schoolwork, I acted out; I wasn’t quite the terrorist that some of these kids become, but I had my moments. Do you know what else I remember? CHOOSING to act that way. I had a mind. I wasn’t a robot. I wasn’t an animal. I knew it was wrong to shirk my schoolwork and misbehave, but I did it anyway. My parents were awesome, most of my teachers were competent, but I still CHOSE to go against them. I chose it. I was responsible, and nobody else. Immature? Sure. Pre-programmed and destined to be a jerk, even against my own will? No. My parents understood this and so they held me accountable. I’d come home with a less than impressive report card and try the whole “the teachers hate me!” routine, but my mom and dad, refusing to be outwitted by a 12 year old, didn’t take the bait. I cried to them. “My teachers say I’m a bad student and they yell at me! Waaaah!” They weren’t sympathetic. “Well, stop being a bad student and maybe they won’t need to yell at you.”

This is in stark contrast to the way some other parents might respond. “What?! They YELL at you?! Nobody should ever yell at my pumpkin, I don’t care what you did!”

I don’t know. Maybe I was the first, last, and only middle school brat to purposefully and knowingly misbehave, but I doubt it. Maybe I’m the aberration. Maybe my experience doesn’t apply to anyone else. Maybe I was the Universe’s Only Guilty Adolescent, but I find that hard to believe.

I’ve read some of the stories about this “Knock Out Game” that a bunch of teens have started playing. Apparently, they sneak up behind unsuspecting strangers and attempt to knock them unconscious with one punch. That’s it. That’s the “game.” A bunch of cowards, of course, and they ought to be thrown in prison; I don’t care if they’re “minors.” The age of reason comes considerably sooner than your 18th birthday, and humans with the capacity for reason understand that the “Knock Out Game” is vile and evil.

But maybe we ought to consider why we seem to be producing so many “kids” who are so utterly detached and cold. Could it be that, among other things, we aren’t effectively communicating the message that YOU are responsible for YOUR actions, and those actions have consequences? Maybe we should think about introducing our little angels to things like work and responsibility. Maybe we should get them acquainted with duty and discipline. Maybe, just maybe, when the teacher calls to tell us that Susie is a disruptive delinquent in English class, we should direct all of that frustration and disappointment at Susie, not her teacher. Maybe Susie ain’t quite the saint you fancy her to be. Maybe you’re severely damaging her chances at success and happiness in life by shielding her from the aftermath of her own horrible decisions.

Maybe your kid gets in trouble at school because he chooses to do things that will get him into trouble. Maybe he chooses it on purpose, even though he knows better. Maybe it’s his fault, and nobody else’s.

Just something to consider.

********

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217 Responses to Radical parenting technique: holding your kids responsible for their behavior

  1. Cindy Bratton says:

    Matt,

    You’re 150% right on – I taught middle school for 4 years in So. California. Now I teach EFL overseas to 350 kids a week – most of which are unmotivated. The 350 here are much easier than the middle schoolers in the States, that’s for sure!

    Cindy

  2. Tony DeRosa says:

    Yes, I’m afraid the whole system is geared toward holding the kids blameless. We were living in Santa Cruz, California back in 1984 and one day we got a call from the manager of Sears in nearby Capitola. He told me my stepson had been caught shoplifting and that since Sears always prosecuted shoplifters, he was calling the sheriff. I replied that he should do just that because our son had been caught shoplifting before and we had told him that he would eventually have to suffer the consequences of his actions if he continued stealing. We concluded the call, but a few minutes later, the manager called back. He said he had never done so before, but he was NOT calling the police because of my responsible attitude. He said that parents usually yelled at him and were otherwise abusive, claiming their child would never do such a thing. I’m not sure what was worse–the fact that our young man wasn’t going to learn a valuable lesson or that most parents were not willing to help a child learn a valuable lesson while it wouldn’t result in a lasting blemish of the child’s record.

  3. Wendi says:

    I have taught for 8 years in a public high school and it is as ridiculous as you describe. Parents truly think that a teacher is seriously going to go to the trouble of making something up about their child. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “my child wouldn’t do that.” Based on my experience, students in the schools I taught in acted the way they did because there were rarely any consequences…none at school and none at home. How is a child supposed to learn to NOT make the wrong choice if he is not taught that it is wrong? It all makes me very happy to be working at home with my 3 small children now.

    • graceia says:

      My husband taught grade 7 and 8 his entire career. He loved those kids. He loved that age group, watching them grow and mature then slip back into childhood then grow again. The changes during those years are especially challenging and rewarding.

      I can remember him coming home one evening telling about catching a few students out back by the perimeter fence smoking. He called parents and one of them said “I talked to my son and he said he wasn’t smoking.” My husband’s answer was “What could I possibly have to gain by lying to you about your son? What could he gain by lying to you?” It still didn’t work.

      Some parents are idiots. I guess they don’t realize that parenting is work and sometimes the work isn’t pleasant. Matt, you are so right. sometimes kids can be jerks. It is painful to be confronted by the reality that your kid has acted like a jerk, but that is exactly the time to put on your big girl or big boy pants and deal with reality so that he or she doesn’t continue to act that way and become an even bigger jerk or worse.

      As a brief aside, my husband would read in our newspaper about different young people in trouble with the law and he would say ” Not surprised. He was headed that way when I taught him.” So very sad for all concerned.

  4. John Barron says:

    One thing my wife and I have always assured each of my kid’s teachers is that we know our kids arent blameless or angels. We know they mess up, dont pay attention, and chatterbox. We let them know that we support them and their authority as teacher of the class and to let us know if they have issues so we can address them. You should see the sigh of relief on some of their faces.

  5. Melinda says:

    My son is 7 and struggles with ADHD. But his father and I NEVER let that be an excuse or crutch when it comes to misbehavior. When he gets in trouble at school, punishment carries over to home. Been that way since day one. And his teacher said that he appreciates not leaving the punishments for poor choices and behavior from school at school. Far to many parents don’t care. My husband and I keep in constant communication with his teacher. At one point I actually apologized for seeming like I bug him entirely to much. He told me he wishes some of the other parents were half as involved we are with our childs lives and education.

  6. Caitlin S says:

    I teach public high school seniors (this is my first year teaching). One of them was failing, consistently skipping or being late for my first period English class, turned 18 and withdrew (the polite term for dropping out). When I mentioned it to the Guidance Counselor secretary, who talked to his mom and dealt with paperwork, she said “Well, she’s mad that we (the school) expect her son to be on time.” I admit I was surprised by that one… though excuses and things have gotten much more creative as the year has gone on…

  7. It is not radical, just ‘responsible’ parenting. As usual, you hit the nail right on the head

  8. JG says:

    I liked the Lord of the Flies analogy haha

  9. Dawn says:

    My step sons mom is that parent. Everyone is to blame except the children (and her of course because her lack of disciplining the boys could never be a factor in their behavior). I have felt so sorry for their teachers and the kids they go to school with. Kids need accountability and discipline. They need consequences. They need all of this consistently and if we as parents do not provide that you get what you create.

  10. Pingback: Radical parenting advice from Matt Walsh: Hold you kids responsible for their behavior | Young Conservatives

  11. Hey, Jude says:

    Ha! My son hates music class & I got a note from the teacher that he was misbehaving. First, I apologized to her, then I gave her some great ideas to punish him in creative ways that he would find even worse than the music class itself.

  12. devnabbymom says:

    AWESOME ARTICLE! I had one “bully teacher” growing up (and she was forced to retire a year early for her actions which included her falsifying my grade on my final…that we had proof of) but, for the most part, my mom knew that my “poor me” attitude was usually me trying to get out of consequences for my own actions. When it mattered, she did stand up for me, but she knew that most of the time I was just trying to get out of trouble that I caused (not doing homework, skipping school, etc.).
    Right now I have an almost 9 year old who is grounded from his PlayStation for his actions. He has Asperger’s and he still has to live with the consequences for his choices. He will never know how to deal with life if we don’t hold him accountable for it now. He CHOSE to willfully fight us on something stupid. He CHOSE to defy us. He CHOSE his actions. He is now upset because he has to live with the consequences of no PlayStation. He is not happy about it, to say the least. We do not treat him as a special snowflake…even with Asperger’s. He has consequences for his actions.
    We homeschool but I, too, feel sorry for many of my teacher friends who have to deal with these parents who act like their sweet babies can do no wrong. As my friend who is a retired teacher relayed a story to me about talking with one of the parents she had to deal with, she said, “I did not give your child a D, they EARNED a D by not turning in assignments and not studying. Do not blame me for your child’s D. They had every chance to get a better grade like anyone else in my class. I have not only offered to help them understand the topic better, I even offered them extra credit to make up the grade. They CHOSE not to take the extra help.” Too many kids want to blame the world for their problems and too many parents let them. This is why we have the generation of young people who expect everything to go their way and whine when it does not.

  13. Pingback: What a radical concept! | A Moral Outrage

  14. Dee H says:

    Great piece!!! My younger son has Autism & when he doesn’t understand that sometimes rules change and he throws a fit that’s not his fault, but today in the store when he decided to tantrum because I grounded him that’s 100% his fault. When I asked him why he was throwing a fit, his response was that I was bullying him! I had to explain to him me parenting does NOT = bullying AND that he was still in trouble. However I have seen some parents use the excuse that their child is on the spectrum to excuse behavior that is correctable. That is not to say that all tantrums by children on the spectrum are preventable, but as a parent you know which ones are and which ones aren’t. I would be doing my son a disservice if I didn’t choose to recognize the difference.

    • devnabbymom says:

      AMEN! I know when my son (also on the spectrum) is having a panic attack (which can look like a tantrum at times) or when he is just being disobedient or defiant because he is not getting his way. The panic attacks are a different story, but the tantrums? Those get punished the same as if my neuro-typical daughter was throwing one. He doesn’t get a pass just because he is on the spectrum. He is still required to learn appropriate behaviors and to have consequences for his choices…good or bad. He is 9 now and still learning that all behaviors have consequences (and thankfully finally starting to understand a bit more) but we point out that HIS choices cause HIS consequences. He was commended today on some really good choices that he made. He was punished for some extremely poor choices he made on Sunday (removal of his game system). He is still earning the ability to get his game system back with the parameters we set up for that. The good choices he made today did earn him the commendations but doesn’t change the parameters we set for earning his system back. He is learning the hard way that he has to follow through on things to earn his things back. It’s a very rough lesson for him this week.

  15. Debbie D says:

    My mother-in-law, bless her heart, taught high school math for 28 years. In the beginning, it was pretty good – when the kids misbehaved, she was supported by both the administration and the parents. But gradually, over the years, it changed, to where if a kid misbehaved, both the admin and the cherub’s parents were on her case about it. She finally couldn’t stand it any more, retired, and went to teach at a community college instead. That high school lost a fine teacher.
    I’m not a government school advocate either but I sure feel for those teachers. I don’t know how they do it, and I have no patience with parents who seriously think their kid could do no wrong. Are they even awake??!!

  16. Angela Death says:

    Thank you! Thank you so much for saying precisely what I have been saying forever it seems! It amazes me that we have taken away personal responsibility from these people. And, yes, I say “people” not “children”. My 14-year-olds certainly know right from wrong, so why should I expect anything less from any other 14-year-old?

    • Exactly. If my kids can behave themselves, why can’t someone else’s? If all six of my siblings and I can remain on the honor roll in school and stay out of jail as adults having grown up in a one-income family and most years just scraping by financially, then I think it is fair to expect that of others. It comes down more to how hard parents want to work to raise their children than anything.

  17. deweydecimalsbutler says:

    The worst is trying to have a parent conference and the student isn’t even there. How can anything get done when the student isn’t present and part of the conversation? This is a perfect example of the situation at hand. All the adults are meeting and fretting, and junior is just playing in the gym.

  18. Robyn Schulze says:

    My son is a smart, motivated kid. He’d been in a local charter school, very good school, but public. Excellent teachers committed to teaching, but–by 7th grade, a preponderance of kids who didn’t give a crap about learning and were happy to scrape by w/ a D. The result? These excellent teachers had no choice but to dumb down the classwork so that these lazy, unmotivated kids could get their D and move on to the next grade. The reason? The parents of these lazy-ass kids didn’t hold their kids to the high expectations of doing homework and studying. One teacher told me that there were many kids that he would recommend to be held back to repeat the grade, but since the schools are given X dollars per child per year to teach them, and are given NOTHING for kids who are held back, there is little to no incentive to hold them back. My response was to thank the teachers for their thankless job and assure them that my decision had nothing to do w/ their teaching, and everything to do w/ the kids in my son’s grade, and I pulled him out and put him in a private Christian school, where he has thrived for the past 5 years, will be graduating at the top of his class and has already been accepted to one of the best schools in our state. We, his parents, have kept our expectations high for him and encouraged him to fulfill his potential. We are very proud of all he has achieved, but more so he is proud of his achievements, because they have come through his own hard work and motivation.

    • CA says:

      Prior to my daughter’s birth, I taught middle school. When I taught at a public school (considered a “good one” in our state), the kids were a real handful: inattentive, wouldn’t complete homework, most had trouble staying on task. Later, I taught at a secular, private school, and the kids were amazing. Genuinely, amazing. I had classes full of 13 and 14 year olds who were eager to participate in class discussions and turn in increasingly complex papers as the years went on. It was a joy to teach these students. My teaching style hadn’t changed– the attitudes of the families that raised the kids in my classes had. Parents really had a vested (financial) interest in making sure their children made an effort. Parents discussed what was going on at school with their children each day, kept tabs on their children’s behavior and progress, and the kids feared having to leave the school (and their friends) if they didn’t do the work. As you can guess, my choice for my two kids today is a small, private school.

  19. kfonda says:

    Matt,
    I’d like to appoint you to be my assistant king in the new society after the coming ‘end of the world as we know it’. The world could certainly use more people with common sense and decency in charge.

    P.S.- If the ‘end of the world as we know it’ does not actually happen, You should run for public office at least at the local level. The only way to fix the problems is to start at he local level and work our way up.

  20. Oh Matt, you have put into words so eloquently what I have been saying for years. First with my mom when she did this with my younger brothers, and now with my fiancé’s teenage children whose mother is exactly the mother you describe in your blog. It drives me INSANE! As the mother of a now 20 year old, I went through the “the teacher is horrible, she hates me” routine, and guess what, I didn’t take it at face value, my response always has been, and still is with my younger children, what did YOU do in the situation? I am willing to defend my kids like the momma bear I am, but I am also well aware that children are manipulative and will do all they can to get their way. I also do not envy teachers and what they are forced to put up with in this “it’s not me it’s you” society. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I can only HOPE my fiancé’s ex sees the light…UGH…

  21. Anoushie's mom says:

    It doesn’t just start in middle school. Try spending some time in the elementary schools. Fast learners, these little ones!

  22. I have great kids–no, I really do!–but the last time one of my kids acted irresponsibly, I called his teacher and we conspired a plan to make him REALLY regret his decision. Our evil plan worked wonderfully and he never made that mistake again.

  23. Heidi says:

    I believe it’s the whole Let’s-give-everyone-an-award-so-our-snowflakes’-feelings-won’t-be-hurt contrivance that is leading our children in a downwards trajectory. We don’t allow them to hurt, or be disappointed or angry for their own actions. We deflect those nasty emotions onto everyone but the child. Then they all end up like Veruca Salt and Violet Beauregarde; kids who are unable to cope with life’s knocks and bumps. I blame the parents. Yeah. I went there…

  24. Joe says:

    While I agree with the general theme of this article, I must say that the teacher who wrote the letter instigating this piece seems to not have control of her classroom. Incompetent teachers are no less culpable than incompetent parents in this particular context.

    • Rob says:

      The main problem with your statement, is that if teachers get too many complaints against them they can and will be be fired. Once a teacher has been burned by trying to instill order in their classroom too many times, you can’t fault them for feeling like giving up. They can only be as good of a teacher as we let them be.

      Note: I’m saying there aren’t bad teachers out there.

    • my6gifts says:

      You’re the parent, Matt’s talking about. Put all the blame on the teacher and none on the kids who are being little hellions.

  25. April says:

    I have taught public middle school for 15 years. Wow, thank you…thank you.

  26. What Melinda said is exactly the problem. The parents aren’t involved in their children’s lives and education. They have their own lives to live after all and drop their kids off at school so they don’t have to be bothered with them and then go off and do their own thing. It used to be that the mother would stay at home and be a mother, but now it’s become the norm for the mother to have a career.
    I’m not by any means saying that this is the case with all working moms. I was raised by a single mom who had to have a job to support my sister and I but she was still involved in our lives. She knew what we were doing (or supposed to be doing) all the time and we could always call her if something went wrong or we needed something. My mom’s attitude towards us and the attitudes of many parents today however seem to be vastly different, in that while their kids are at school they become the responsibility of others and they – the parents- are no longer needed until they get out of school at which time their responsibility resumes.
    So taking this to it’s logical conclusion, the way to get kids to stop acting as described in your post Matt, is for the parents to be involved in their kids lives. Know the kid have a relationship with them, get to know what is going on inside their head, find out what makes them tick. Then when the teacher calls & tells you that your kid was being a horrible monster you have enough information to be able to say, “That just doesn’t sound like him”, or “That is exactly what he’d do in the situation described.” Instead of automatically blaming the teacher who is only trying to do the best he/she can with what you’ve given them, parents would have enough knowledge & information about their kid to be able to place the blame where it is so richly deserved: on the horrible little monster they are raising!

  27. Peg says:

    Thank you…I taught middle school for 38 years. I love middle schoolers….they are funny and curious but put them in a group of more than 10 and they can turn into monsters. Parents have to be held accountable.

  28. I am a Middle school teacher and mother of middle school age child. I could not agree with you. As a single parent and disciplinary I struggled to raise respectful kids in this world but all the choices my child makes is his choice and responsibility and I get very mad at our legal system. Parent is not the child friend, we need to teach the child and necessary punish the child for their mistakes. Last week a 8th grade student was confronting another student at recess and because I intervene and the student said the “F…. you ” and didnt follow my directions. The dean of the discipline couldnt send the student home for disrespect stuff because parent file law suit for no reason. They dont discipline their child and dont want them to be disciplined at school either.

    • Joe says:

      “I am a Middle school teacher.”

      And I am Spartacus.

    • devnabbymom says:

      This is one of the biggest parts of the situation. The schools are neutered and cannot actually doing anything because everyone is sue happy and parents don’t want their special snowflakes to get into trouble. It’s sad. When I was in public school, we knew to NEVER swear at our teachers (or anything worse) because we would be in huge trouble at school…and then at home. Now, they don’t get squat and the teachers have no real authority over the kids anymore and then they go home and the parents don’t care. The parents don’t want their precious children to be disciplined…so they run around like idiots doing whatever they want and then become society’s problem when they are adults and in the legal system.

  29. Twin Mom says:

    Check out the book, “Your Kids Are Your Own Fault” by Larry Winget. He addresses exactly what you are writing about. Parents need to teach responsibility and consequences in order to raise responsible, successful and generous adults. This must start during childhood and continue – – parents can’t just quit because they’re tired and then try to blame others. Kids of these type of parents are not welcome to be my kids’ friends.

  30. Fox says:

    My aunt could have easily written any of that with how many times she and I have discussed this very thing. My conclusion? Half the time when kids act like this we should blame the parents, because the parents are the kind to deflect all nlame from their precioys child. Yes, those parents are to blame, not for their child acting up, but for sheltering their child for the consequences of their actions.

    Yes, kids need to be held accountable for what they do. That’s how things work in the real world. How else are they going to learn? It’s either that or they grow up and can’t understand why they’re being punished for things they git away with before, or can’t get a job because they have no work ethic.

    If you seriously believe the problem is the teachers having it out for your little darling, pull the kid out of school! Homeschool! You’ll learn pretty quickly where the problem is. It will be pretty obvious when the teacher is no longer there to be the bad guy.

  31. rlcarterrn says:

    I agree whole-heartedly. My mom is a teacher so she deals w/ this quite often. And it’s ridiculous! We cannot raise kids w/o any sense of responsibility & then expect them to be decent people. That’s just not the way the world works. I was a kid/teen not too terribly long ago & I remember a lot of my classmates being jerks. I might have even been a jerk occasionally, & if I was, I chose to do that. Just as the other kids did. When I look at my classmates from high school who are not doing well as adults, guess what? It’s because of the CHOICES they made (having unprotected sex at an early age, dropping out of school, never paying attn in class & barely graduating, taking zero initiative in career planning, etc). And then I see others (myself included) who have good careers & stable lives now & guess how we got here? Good choices! That’s not to say our family support & other factors didn’t help us out; surely they did. But ultimately it always comes down to the choices we make & the consequences of those choices. No, life isn’t fair & not everyone who makes the same bad choices will suffer the exact same consequences. But that’s just the way life works. And we need to raise our kids w/ that in mind.

  32. I taught 1st grade for three consecutive school years (after graduating with my 4 year degree). I quit and will not return to the classroom for one reason. Parents. I am now a parent myself and am even more flabbergasted by their behavior. And, I was good at my job. I had a knack for taking struggling readers to high achieving ones. But, I ran a tight ship. I tolerated no disrespect and the parents did not approve. “But they are ONLY 7!!” Yes, and we have loads of fun, but they will still treat me with respect. The worst (best?) example I had was when I was on playground duty and one of my students shoved another child right in front of me. I saw it with my own eyes. I disciplined the child and notified the parents of exactly what happened. Not only did the mother come into my classroom and berate me in front of my students, but told me her daughter did NOT shove that student. When I repeated that it happened right in front of me, the mother said, “She says she didn’t do it. I believe her.”

  33. Rose says:

    My son was the jerk. He wasn’t doing his school work. But, the final straw was when we learned of his behavior in class. He is now enrolled in online school. You don’t get to go into a classroom until you learn to do your work, behave, and show respect. I am surprised though, at the reactions of other parents. They can’t believe we would do something so “extreme”. That’s ok. My son is working on getting another chance at public school. Big life lesson learned that actions do have consequences.

  34. Just Trixie says:

    Generally speaking, you are right, Matt, as always. However; again as always, there are exceptions to the rule. Some teachers are ordained by God to do so. They teach for the love of teaching and for the love of the children. There are, unfortunately, some teachers who teach because they wanted Summer vacation for life. :/ Before I decided to homeschool my daughter, she complete 6 years of public schooling. Of those six years, only ONE teacher had a problem with her. That teacher, unlike any of her 5 previous teachers, was one of those Summer vacation loving teachers, which is fine, unless you can’t seem to manage your biases in the classroom for the other 10 months of the year. That teacher insisted on preaching her politics to 5th graders, and had no qualms with letting everyone know that she preferred boys to girls in her classroom. She never so much as lifted a finger to help ANY of the girls in her class, but was quick to assign discipline to any girl who questioned that or pointed it out. So, yes, during that school year, I was that parent who turned every accusation right back around to the teacher. Was my daughter a perfect angle? No. Did I care? No. Why? Because this woman was Hell bent on making sure that none of her students left her class at the end of the year without changing their world view to fit her own and I was having none of it. I spent that entire school year un-teaching my daughter every word she was taught at school. So, yes, parents need to lighten up and hold their kids responsible; but, also yes, teachers need to teach the curriculum set before them leaving their politics and world view at home and do so professionally and without preference for gender or ability in her students.

    • Just Trixie says:

      Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention that when we pulled her out of school, we enrolled her in an online school and she completed three years of school in 18 months. Her poor grades were nothing to do with her skill or ability and everything to do with a horrible teacher.

    • Rob says:

      Nobody’s child is a perfect angle. 😛

    • Rebecca says:

      Life’s not fair. If your child made it through that many great teachers in public school, be thankful. I, myself have gone through the same thing. My mothers answer was, “maybe the teacher is unfair, irritated or just plain lazy, but with 20 kids in one class, I expect you to follow the rules to the best of your ability. I always excelled in school but I also, always had a problem shutting my trap and eventually it caught up with me. When my time came with that teacher, my mother really stepped up her expectations of me. Her reasoning, no matter my previous struggles of keeping quiet, she knew that if I put in a little extra effort to curve my socializing it would be enough to at least keep the picky teacher off my back enough to get me through the year. She was right. The year passed and I was on to the next year with no hurt feelings. Her life lesson to me…sometimes, despite the best of your abilities, people will be unfair. Doesn’t change a thing. The rules don’t change and as bad as it might be at the time, life goes on and you need to learn to deal with it. It’s easy to teach your kids to follow the rules when things go as expected. Your true character shows in how you react to your situation.

  35. Awillaway says:

    I am printing this out and showing it to my stepdaughter tomorrow. You see, I see this the same way you do…and she hates it!

    I do have to interject that I feel confident in saying “It’s society’s fault”. Not the individual actions of the children, of course. However, it is society’s fault that the parents or teachers who try to go against the grain are shut up, quickly. This is because all those parents, teachers, and children have become the loudest voice in society.

    I work every day toward attempting to make my stepdaughter (and 3 younger children) responsible for their own actions. What do I get from her? More rebellion! She sees other parents doing this and looks at me like I’m the wrong one for holding her accountable (she’s in middle school, by the way). In fact, most other people in her life engage in this sort of behavior and blame everything and everyone around her for her actions…that’s where she’s learned it from! Of course, she chooses to listen to the voices screaming in her ear that my ways are unjust…therefore, she is accountable for it.

    I say all this for one simple sentiment: I think the letter from the middle school student, this post, and any voice out there similar to this one are a great start. Voices like yours lay the foundation for a much needed counter culture and should, in fact, grow louder. Perhaps then, we can drown out the drones and begin to rebuild a very broken society!

  36. staciepmt says:

    Don’t know who this is, but I could have written this myself. Amen! Staciep. Middle school teacher.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  37. umashankar says:

    That is a fine, probing analysis on juvenile delinquency. I hope the message is not lost on doting parents.

  38. Shantel says:

    Of course they are going to act like barbarians? when they are verbally and emotionally abused as you have done in your post. I don’t care what has happened- there is NEVER a reason to treat youth like this- EVER. I have two teenagers at home and they are amazing people. I dont have such dark shades of doom over what I see. These kids of this generation are incredible. They are giving and caring, inventive and creative. You dont have any kids this age, you dont work with any kids this age- but you sure have the negative feedback pegged- I hope no one in the middle school reads this or any of the comments, and finds the adults who see no hope in them. That is the way to fix things Matt Walsh. WAY. TO. GO. Super Useful you are.

    • Wow! Talk about a shining example of the very problems Matt is talking about. Way to go Shantel. You prove his point quite well.

    • Joe says:

      U mad, bro?

    • devnabbymom says:

      Apparently you don’t live in an area where the youth are troubled and do whatever they please. We have so many middle school kids in the legal system in my town and all they get is a slap on the wrists. They know what they should and shouldn’t do but they CHOOSE to do it because they know they are minors and will get away with it…and besides, their parents don’t ever follow up with them so they get no consequences for their actions. Sorry, I see this every day in my town. The police see these kids doing graffiti on the school sign. There are numerous car break ins. At these ages, I knew that I shouldn’t be doing these things. These kids know it, too. They don’t care. Live in your rose colored glasses world all you like but not all kids are like yours. These kids will spit in the faces of teachers with no remorse. I have friends who teach in the inner city. These kids don’t care and will do as they please…including assaulting a teacher with little more than a slap on the wrist and back in school the next day. No consequences leads to kids running wild and being barbarians. And no…it doesn’t hurt their special snowflake feelings to be called that. They don’t care. Maybe if more people punished them for their actions (real punishment…hard work and restitution for their actions), they wouldn’t act like that.

    • 3boys'mom says:

      I have three boys ages 9,11, and 13. I also work in a high school with kids who have had issues in their lives that have led to jail time and other behavioral issues, so I have real-world first hand experience with the youth that Matt speaks about.

      This post is hardly verbally or emotionally abusive, a little straightforward and blunt, but not abusive. My children are also awesome, but I know that as human beings they have the ability to act like jerks and do incredibly stupid things. There is nothing wrong with bluntly, but respectfully, telling a kid to stop being a hedonistic and to show a little maturity; kids after all want so badly to be treated like adults don’t they?

      While kids may be caring, inventive and creative, they can also be selfish, rude, and outright defiant. How do we make snotty, disrespectful, self-centered window-lickers into positive contributing members of society? We hold them accountable for their idiotic immaturity so they can eventually grow out of adolescence and into some form of a mature adult.

      Does my realistic view of children mean that I have no hope for them? Quite the opposite. The fact that I know they can be better and that I expect more out of them means I believe in them as human beings; I don’t just see them as a screw-up. I know that they have the ability to be something more than just a shoplifter, a runaway, a drug dealer, or a batterer. They have the ability to rise above their circumstances and become a better version of themselves, but only if the adults in their lives teach them that stupid decisions have painful consequences.

  39. Jen says:

    I’m so glad you’re talking about this. In our area last week, there was a horrible incident where two kids got in a fight at a high school. The one beat the other one so badly, he had to be airlifted to a hospital and died the next day. Now the first kid is in jail and people are falling all over themselves to protest that “his brain hasn’t fully developed – he was unable to know what would happen.” Really? The kid in question is 15. My five-year-old nephew knows the difference between right and wrong and that if you choose to do wrong, there are consequences. I’m sure this boy didn’t decide before throwing that first punch, “hey, I’m going to kill this guy.” But he chose to fight, and now he should be held accountable for his actions. I’m not trying to be callous at all; I am deeply saddened for him, his family, the family of the boy who died, the faculty and students of the school, and the whole community. But it really aggravates me when people, as you talked about above, try to blame every other thing under the sun but the responsible party.

  40. gisele says:

    I agree, when you raise children you know after being with them 24 hours a day what they are capable of. My oldest was stubborn and didn’t like school, I had to spend a lot of time with him to finish his homework, but it got done, and he never got in trouble at school. My second however, was more like me, rebellious, he was smart but wouldn’t apply it at school, it was a chore. He got into trouble during recess all the time for fighting, he was small for his age and always wanted to prove himself but in the wrong way. I was frustrated with him and at my wits end, punishments didn’t seem to work, teachers would tell me what he did but always said he was well behaved in class and not to be hard on him, I knew he told them he was punished. I ended up in a psychiatrists office for help and he helped me deal, my child had ADHD but there are ways to discipline, its difficult but after a year the fighting stopped. The punishments started small but if the offense was repeated then it was lengthened and I did exactly what he told me to do, he learned that being a bully was not acceptable. Being a single mother at the time and of three kids, it was very difficult, I worked and raised them, but it can be done, it needs effort, some parents today just don’t take the time or say they don’t have time, but that’s what it is to have kids, its a difficult job at times but its your responsibility to do it, if you want them to grow up right.

  41. Wicky Poarch says:

    Let me guess, Joe. You’ve never taught school, have you?

  42. Jennifer says:

    yes, yes and YES! I taught for 12 years before having children and I vow never to be that parent! I have never gotten over the shock of how some parents defend their little “angels”. One time I wrote a referral for “vulgar language” and I got a letter full of cuss words from the father. Unbelievable.

  43. MomOf3 says:

    This is dead on. It’s not just middle school though. Parents are teaching their kids that nothing is their fault starting in elementary school. I have 3 kids (6th grade boy, 4th grade girl & kindergarten boy). I had my first 2 kids at 17 & 19 (I was married to their father but now happily divorced). Now with me being a teen mom I have had teachers that automaticly wrote me off as clueless until they got to know me. Here’s some examples of what I’ve been through with 2 of my kids this school year already: my 6th grader decided he was going to play class clown & be disruptive in classes he found boring & not turn in class/homework. I got an email from 1 teacher & phone call from another in the same day. Let’s just say I wasn’t happy (understatement). I apologized & told them it was completely unexceptable. Now being that he had switched from a dif school I asked if his IEP was in place. It wasn’t so that has since been fixed. But! My son was in big trouble. I arranged for him to spend his lunches alternating between the 2 classes to make up for missing assigents & help the teachers if need be to make up for the disrespect. He had managed to go from F’s in both classes to a B & C in 2weeks. I’m grateful these teachers gave him a chance to make it up. But he’s still not getting any electronic devices back until I see fit. Now, my 4th grader. The self proclaimed tomboy who doesn’t like to “hang out” with other girls because they are too catty with each other. She was caught last week rough housing in lunch. They were all punching each other’s arms & jokingly saying little smart remarks to each other. They all got referrals & were given detention (served yesterday). Kids will be kids so she was grounded for a week & I told the teacher I wanted her to copy the code of behavior section that talks about horseplay in cursive (a punishment I had as a child in detention). She said usually they just do homework but she was happy to have a parent take the punishment seriously. Well, when I got to the school to drop her off for the am detention what did I find. That my daughter would be the only one still serving it. That the other parents had complained to the principal that the boys were just playing & shouldn’t be in trouble. WTH! I made my daughter serve her detention anyway. I walked into the office & spoke with the principal who was surprised my daughter would still have detention. I asked her “why is it that these parents were allowed to take away their kids’ punishments? These kids were caught doing something they knew they shouldn’t have been doing. It’s not like they were suspended. It’s a simple detention ment to make them think twice before making the same mistake again.” She said “sadly, most parents don’t feel that we have a right to impose any form of discipline or consequences on their children. So the kids continue to misbehave.” This is so wrong. I hold my 3 kids responsible for their mistakes while other parents are giving their kids complexes like “I’m untouchable” or the one we all see in the stores “I want I want give me give me”. These parents obviously aren’t thinking of the consequences of how their kids will behave as they enter adulthood. I know this was long but I had to put it out there. I’m very disappointed in the parents that enable their kids to act like fools. I’m in no way saying my kids are angels. Far from it. All kids make mistakes. But it’s up to us as parents to correct them when they’re wrong & encourage them when they’ve done well. It’s a matter of bringing old school values & disciplines into the new age. Give these teachers a break. They are under paid, under appreciated & over worked. Oh & don’t forget the poor bus drivers that have to deal with a bunch of rowdy kids/teens in a small confined area while concentrating on driving. I give them props. Lord knows I wouldn’t want to deal with all that.

    • Kristen says:

      You sound like an awesome mom! I remember a kid getting in trouble in the school I work in because he was throwing food at lunch. When he got lunch detention (which consisted of STILL sitting in the lunch room – just at a desk instead of the table) the mother called the principal to complain and said he was a bully for making her kid sit at the desk. Mind you, he was sitting right next to another kid and talked the whole time, thoroughly enjoying his lunch and little chat. Unbelievable…

  44. Rebecca says:

    I think many parents blame teachers and, everyone else, for their child’s misbehavior, because they know that ultimately, the child’s behavior stems from their lack of parenting.

  45. NaDell says:

    I will never understand the blame game. I was taught in first grade (public school worked for me!) by my teacher that NO ONE CAN MAKE YOU DO ANYTHING. I’ve repeated it often and taught it to my kids.

  46. Keyomi says:

    ‘A Lord of the Flies flavoured cake’… Nailed that. Hahahaha amazing.

  47. Crystal says:

    Agreed. But I’m wondering if the people who need to read this most never will? It seems like your typical Matt Walsh readers are already aware of this and raising their children correctly, for the most part.

    Similarly, I’d be curious to hear whether you’ve ever gotten feedback from people who have changed their mind/stance/behavior after reading one of your articles. Maybe you could write about that sometime? I’d love to read it!

  48. Sedmi says:

    Well, that is for what you get by not setting any kind of boundaries for the kids. They do that as a desperate act to finally get somebody’s attention and get somebody to set their boundaries. I see that shift in raising kids here in Europe too. It is not as far as in the US, but it is not good either.

  49. Momofsix says:

    This blame game worked for President Obama- in fact, it got him elected a second term!

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