Teacher = Boldness

At the Senior Year Picnic in 1993 at Live Oak High School, I am documented on tape as saying, "I'll never be a teacher." Yet, here I am 15 years later immersed to my eyeballs in this honored profession. Over the past 10 years, I've seen my share of bad parenting. There have been circumstances where I've addressed concerns in the way my students were being parented, but for the most part, I've only addressed the behavior and expectations in my classroom and not what goes on at home. I guess, after 10 years of being frustrated with the steady decline of quality parenting, a switch snapped and I couldn't take it anymore.

Saturday night, Cheney and I went to see The Watchmen - by the way, I do not recommend this to ANYONE!! We had no idea what the movie was about other than the fact that it was a graphic novel. I knew going in it was rated "R." To my knowledge the age restrictions to "R" rated movies have not changed, kids under 17 are supposed to be accompanied by an adult. After a few minutes of the movie an elementary age boy about 8 years old sat down beside me. I assumed that a parent was in the theater and was appalled by the lack of protection this parent was giving to this kid. It got worse. As the movie progressed, the level of graphic content increased to the point that I was ready to leave, but I was more concerned about what this child was seeing and how they would deal with the scenes that would stick with me. I made a decision to find the manager of the theater and approached him about the policy of underage kids in a theater for an R rated movie. He proceeded to tell me that if the parent was there, his hands were tied. In the middle of this conversation, a woman approached him to ask what time the 10:30 Watchmen let out - the movie I was in.

After a mental calculation and using those inference skills I teach everyday, I put two and two together and determined that this mother was the parent of the child sitting next to me. All of the frustration of the last 10 years in education came to the surface and spilled out. I took the manager out of the equation and approached this Parent of the Year and advised her that her son did not need to be in this movie. Of course, there was justification - "He watches all that stuff all the time - Freddy Krueger, Friday the 13th, Saw 1-5, etc." Out of my mouth tumbled, "As a parent it is your job to protect your child from the images that he is sitting in a theater watching. It is the policy of this theater not to allow kids of his age to be in that theater without you." Meanwhile, the manager has not said a word. And then, the ultimate bold statement, "You should be ashamed of yourself and your parenting abilities."

She came into the theater, sat beside her son for all of two seconds to tell him that she would be waiting in the car - all while the manager was present.

30 minutes later, the movie was worse, and Cheney went to get the manager and the child was pulled from the theater.

It frustrates me to no end to see bad parenting because I see the result of it every day in my classroom. After 10 years in education, some still say that because I don't have kids of my own, I really don't know anything about children, so what I say is not taken seriously. Even though I don't have kids of my own, I know children and I know parents.

As a teacher, I have to combat parents like this every day, so with this job, there is a need for boldness and courage to say what needs to be said.


Just Me said…
You were very right to voice your concern over this child. Children need a voice. Especially when the parent doesn't protect them. Although you don't have children, you have experiences that those of us who do could learn from. We teach one another in this world. I wish there were more teachers like you who are concerned about the moral welfare of children. I would be more at ease with my children going to school each day if there were more like you. Although,I don't choose to attend "R" rated movies myself unless they are carefully chosen ( The Passion for example) I believe we have the responsibility to speak out about such issues. We wouldn't have to deal with such things if those of us who are Christians would have spoken out long ago.