Parents act REALLY touchy and touché when you bring up any thoughts, suggestions or advice regarding their parenting. I understand. I used to feel that way about my teaching. But the difference with teaching is usually you are having a planned discussion about your teaching style. And as I have gained more experience, I know how to separate the chaff from the rice.
My friend Jen posted on Facebook about a couple of women watching and commenting on her husband’s “rough” handling of their child. She was pissed because she knows her husband is a good father and wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize their son’s health and safety. Gender stereotyping. Nevertheless, I thought Jen’s angry reaction was interesting considering her easygoing personality.
During an all-women’s writers group, I mentioned this incident. And one of the women mentioned how she would always get nervous when her husband threw or tossed their child in the air and how a cartoon made her laugh about it. The cartoon showed the child’s perception of the distance between father and him – too close to daddy, and the mother’s perception which was the baby being tossed up to the ceiling.
Then the women started talking about how those women were just being “overprotective” as is in their nature, and how they would understand Jen getting upset because the father’s behavior shows a reflection of her mothering. And when I mentioned Jen is a doula, they were like, Okay! It all makes sense now!
I recently posted this article on FB from Details magazine called, Are you raising a douche bag? And surprisingly, my brother got really agitated by it. In fact, as I type, I can see he is responding to our discussion because I thought the article was good and he did not.
One of the things that bothered me about Waldorf was I knew I was working with many entitled or rich kids. Waldorf education is an expensive one. Now let me be clear, I know we want to give our children the best, but I come from a different background. I’d put my family on the low-middle class scale, blue collar, and spare the rod spoil the child kind of thing.
I also come from an ethnically diverse State, Hawaii, so I was also very aware of the lack of “color” or diversity in my classroom and the school. Heck, Portland is pretty monochromatic. I felt the class or economic differences created a lot of misunderstandings between me and the parents, and maybe even some of the faculty, too.
I used to get incensed over politics, I still get stupid angry over drivers, and like any asshole without kids, I certainly have options about childrearing. I guess because I’ve been reared before.
One of the biggest criticisms I received as a young Waldorf teacher was I didn’t have any children, so what could I possibly know about them. This deeply hurt because I loved my students as if they were my own and had dedicated myself to teaching. Enter sob story here.
Now I just think, “You are absolutely right.” All I know is from what I see and observe when I’m in the classroom or when I’m interacting with your child. I realize parents want to be held accountable for the brilliant and great things their child does and congress a “hands off policy” when their child behaves badly. I’d be the same way I’m sure.
But if there is one thing I’ve learned from my failed Waldorf experience, from watching my friends and family raise kids, from teaching English in foreign countries, it’s this: R E L A X. Breathe. Don’t take everything so seriously.
Folks are going to have many opinions and thoughts about you that you might feel are mostly false and downright wrong, but there is nothing you can do to change it. Trust me, I’ve tried.
I can only say this now because I wonder how my Waldorf career would have turned out had I been more understanding, compassionate and less touchy. This is not to validate or justify what some of the faculty and parents did, but I don’t think wishing you were more compassionate and understanding is a bad thing. Or is it?