On “Bad Parenting”

This evening I read a social media post from a friend whose family has had a really rough year. They’ve got the trifecta of health issues, emotional issues, and financial issues. They are a family seriously stretched to their very limits. And today a teacher scolded them for their “bad parenting” because an elementary school kid wasn’t getting homework done.

I was so angry on their behalf. What they’re dealing with is bigger than what I deal with, but I know how awful it feels when a teacher implies that “bad parenting” is why my kid struggles in their class. It pokes me in all my anxious places because I’m always convinced I could/should do something more. Yet it also makes me think of a larger principle that I think is worth examining.

What if we as teachers, neighbors, community members began recognizing the “bad parenting” that we witness as a symptom of an ailment instead of as something to be judged. Because I truly believe that most parents want to be good at parenting. When they fail it is because they are stressed, or overwhelmed, or don’t have resources, or have never been taught. When we identify “bad parenting” that is a moment to step in and help, not stand back and judge.