Teaching is not an easy profession and dealing with kids on a daily basis is no easy task. However, sometimes it's not the kids who are the problem, but their parents instead who are the real nightmares. They often say: 'The apple doesn't fall far from the tree,' and in these AskReddit cases, that often seems to be the case. What children bring into the classroom is usually a direct reflection of what they are experiencing at home (However, there are always exceptions to the rule). Check out these following parent-teacher conference stories.
Posts have been edited for clarity.
“I taught this 5th grader who had a ton of potential and an awesome personality. He was totally one of my favorite students, but at the same time, he was also chronically unprepared and always behind on his homework.
His mom came in for a conference and made excuses for him, blamed me for giving confusing assignments (which was inaccurate), and told me how she couldn’t help manage his homework because she had two other children to worry about.
For example, his grandmother would pick up the kids and drop them off at their brother’s baseball practice. My student would leave his backpack in his grandmother’s car, and his mom would pick up the kids after the practice was done. Her conclusion was, ‘Why should his brother have to miss out on baseball just because of his siblings?’
After about 5 minutes, I stopped her and turned to the kid. I asked him if he thought that he could be doing more (even if it was on his own), and he said that he thought that he could. I told him that I thought so as well and thanked them for coming in.
Next day at school, I told him that I thought he was a great person with a ton of potential and that he was going to have to ‘Make things happen for himself.’ He totally understood what I meant.
It broke my heart.”
Opera Star In The Making
“The worst one was a mother who threatened to pull her daughter out of the school system if she didn’t get the lead soprano role in the high school’s Christmas concert. Her daughter auditioned just like everyone else, but she didn’t possess the voice or the skills that were required for the part. The student understood this and agreed with the decision, but it was her mother who turned it into a confrontation by believing that her daughter should have been an opera star in the making.”
“I tutored a child of a very aggressive parent. They were so sure that their child was going to get into the number one high school in the state and would not let anyone tell them otherwise. The mother confronted me because I was talking about two lessons to go through past papers. The reason why I was doing this was that he was getting everything wrong, so I needed to explain almost every question to him. His ability level wasn’t nearly as close, and the poor child was just under so much pressure from his overbearing parents.
To be honest, I never heard from them again. It’s amazing how many parents think they can teach teachers how to teach.”
“I was working at a boarding school on the summer school course. We had two boys (8 and 11) arrive with their uncle (who they were staying with since they were originally from the UAE). He had come to drop them off for 5 weeks but had neglected to tell the children that. They thought they had come for a nice castle tour. Their uncle then booked it and left it to us to explain to them that they were actually staying for 5 weeks rather than an awesome holiday since they had been doing some pretty cool stuff for the week prior to being dropped off.
During the kids stay, the uncle would take the boys off campus and then bring them back on Saturday afternoon. One week, they came back with game consoles, which weren’t allowed. Their uncle tried to bribe me to let them keep them by offering me a white chihuahua puppy, and when I declined, he shouted at me for being common and poor.
During the boys last week, several trunks full of clothes and belongings arrived because, surprise, the kids were going to be staying at the school until they were 18.”
“My wife is a kindergarten teacher and suspected that one of her students may be autistic. The kid couldn’t communicate well at all, had issues with using the bathroom, and showed other classic signs of autism. My wife had a conference with the mother and explained that she would like him to be evaluated, but the mother refused and said that if her son did have autism then my wife was the one who caused it.”
“I had an experience last year teaching first grade where I was forced to drag a kid out of the room because he was trying to hit another with a chair. While I was out for barely even one or two minutes, one of the 1st-grade girls essentially took over the class and reminded everyone to keep working and that everyone had ‘bad days’ (so that they wouldn’t gossip about the student that I had just removed).
The next time I saw her parents, they were asking if she was focused enough and wanted to know if she had spent too much time talking when she should be working. I nearly laughed because, from my perspective, she was the class savior. I wanted to give that girl a medal of honor or something.
To put it in perspective, the other kid’s mom blamed me for not having enough class discipline, being biased, and being inexperienced. She refused to believe what her kid had done and didn’t allow him to be tested for special education or see the school psychologist. Dealing with parents that are a little worried about their good kids is a night-and-day difference from most of the interactions that we have to have, which is with the parents of children whom we are actually having problems with.”
“I was teaching a senior calculus class in high school. It was for an AP credit, and the kids in there were a year or two ahead of the average student.
A mother came in and told me that her daughter was wasting her time in my class because ‘She wasn’t smart enough’ to go to college and that she would just end up running the family bookstore anyway, while not doing anything with her life.
The girl was smart, self-motivated, and was already doing college-level work and getting A’s. I pulled her aside the next day and told her how to look into scholarships if her parents didn’t plan on helping pay for college. I’m proud to say- she went.”
Easy Way Out
“I had to deal with this one really awful kid during my internship. He was a part of the 5th-grade class that I was assigned to. He was just awful. He got into angry fits, and if something didn’t go his way, he would scrunch up his face and huff and puff. The teacher whom I was under either ignored it or allowed him to keep doing this by just giving him a calm talking to.
Then I started my full-time teaching, and I didn’t put up with it because he was a nuisance to the other children who were trying to learn. At one point in time, I sent him out to the other teacher because he yelled at me saying that ‘I didn’t know how to teach and that I wasn’t helping anyone.’
Turns out, my teacher was nice to him because his mom was ridiculous. Apparently, she would always ‘Turn your words against you.’ Now I’m not the type of person to get intimidated by this as I’m very much a ‘This-is-a-problem-and-it-needs-to-be-addressed-now-before-he-gets-to-middle-school’ type of person.
My teacher got an angry email from his mom once after I had sent him out of the classroom. Apparently, I didn’t have the authority to do such a thing since I was just the student teacher. Instead of sticking up for me, my teacher just said that I would be gone soon and that she didn’t need to worry about me. My professor had to ‘Talk me down’ and remind me that ‘This wasn’t my classroom.’ It was quite eye-opening to realize that even teachers will take the easy way out.”
The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree
“It wasn’t just one kid in particular, but every year, there are always one or two aggressive or disrespectful students. 90% of the time, these parents try to make up excuses about how it’s normal, how all kids are like this at that age, and how I should show them more compassion instead of saying that there is a disciplinary problem.
These are also the same 90% of parents who are also usually very disrespectful and verbally aggressive towards teachers, and thus everyone dreads talking to them. That saying about the apple not falling far from the tree rings oh-so-true.
Alternatively, the parents who are the most apologetic and a delightful to talk to are the ones with the fantastic children.”
“I used to work at an afterschool center for 6 to 9-year-old kids. We always had a few of those special cases. I remember one particularly well because he was such a sweet little guy but couldn’t make friends because no one had ever taught him any normal communication skills. He tended to get angry and ruin other kid’s paintings and then got told when his parents picked him up that it was the other kid’s fault for making him angry. If we tried to discipline him then we would get yelled at by his parents who would say that it was old-school to discipline kids in that way.”
“I teach K-12 music at a smaller rural school. Musicals are always hard with a small student body and with the rehearsals conflicting with sports.
My students sign a contract in December agreeing to attend the last three rehearsals before the show runs fully. Even the coaches agree to it prior (and that the three missed practices are fine).
This 8th-grade girl was asked to try out for varsity softball, and she informed us (that week itself) how she wouldn’t be coming in for the last three rehearsals but that she would still be in the show. So, we said, ‘Sorry, but that isn’t acceptable.’ This student was one of the ones whom we had worked with and accommodated for three whole months so that she could go to all of her basketball practices and fully participate in both things. So, of course, we weren’t very happy when she was saying this. We worked out with the student that she would come 95% of the time and only miss the last scene (which she was just a body on set with no lines), that way, she could still make most of her practices. However, we wouldn’t allow her to be in the scenes which she had missed. She agreed to this and even said, ‘It was no big deal.’ So, everything seemed fine.
Cue her angry mother. She demanded a phone call that day (It was 3pm when we got her email). The first sentence read: ‘Well, she didn’t know that when she had signed up, she would also be asked to try out. Therefore, she shouldn’t be held to her contract.’ Obviously, in response, we said, ‘Well, that’s not how contracts work.’ Then she turned to rage mode and started screaming insults at us. She trashed my profession, made numerous comments on how no one cared about music, accused us of things that weren’t true (from threatening students to showing favoritism to giving ultimatums), and then SHE GAVE US AN ULTIMATUM saying how ‘We either let her miss and be in every scene, or she would just pull out her daughter out completely.’
Finally, my coworker got a word in and cut the conversation off saying that an admin would contact her tomorrow (It was already 6pm and rehearsals were over). The coach talked down the mom down by saying that ‘It was fine if she went to us first and that she would still get to be on varsity.’ However, I never ever want to see that parent again. After our very successful show, she was all over Facebooks writing about ‘How wonderful it was, and how lucky the kids are to get to participate in something like this.’ We just shook our heads at her.”
“I had this second-grader who was really bright, funny, and interesting kid. He was also very wiggly and a little overconfident. He had a really hard time taking constructive feedback on anything. He would get super offended, and sometimes, he would get really upset if I gave him a suggestion to add to his writing, etc. He also didn’t really follow directions and always had to be the center of attention a lot of the time, which was distracting with 26 other kids in the class. Because he couldn’t take suggestions, he wasn’t making as much progress as he should’ve been.
His mom came in for our conference and talked for 15+ minutes about how her son was a genius and she told him that every day, and so forth. This was a textbook case of some ‘fixed mindset’ stuff and explained perfectly well why he couldn’t handle any feedback at all. It was fascinating, but also really frustrating because she was so clearly holding him back. However, she didn’t really respect teachers at all anyway, and there was no way for somebody else even to tell her that.
Also, her kid wasn’t a genius. Like I have had a handful of those, and he is just not one of them. However, he’s still awesome, important, special, and wonderful! It was just weird to see how much she insisted that he was the smartest kid in the room.”
“My district is actually about 90% full of decent parents. Parents who want their kids to do well the right way. Like parents who, for example, if the kid is failing, will ask what the KID can do to bring up their own grades (by either completing any missing assignments or doing some extra credit stuff). They want to know how they can help.
The worst I’ve seen are usually the wishy-washy parents and the ‘my-student-must-go-to-ivy-league’ parents. When I call a wishy-washy parent and say, ‘Yeah, it’s a third of the way through the quarter, and your kid hasn’t done any homework. Here’s my website where the kid can download all the missing assignments and turn them in for partial credit.’ The parent respond with, ‘Well, I’ll try and get him to do that.” At which point, I wash my hands of this homework being done. I’ve done my job and contacted the parent.
I’ll contact them again towards the end of the quarter saying, ‘Yeah, your child is going to fail if their homework isn’t done.’ And then I wash my hands off gain.
I had one mom ask about grades. Her honors student was pulling a 96 in my class. Excellent! She asked what he could be doing to get a higher grade. I was literally dumbfounded at this point. I had to tell her that it was nothing… really. This is English, not math. Things are rarely 100% correct, and there is always room for improvement in writing. I told her to have him work harder on ‘cutting the fat’ out of his writing and that I’d help him if he wanted, but a 96 was already considered EXCELLENT in my class (especially in honors as I am a tough, tough grader).”
From A Kid’s Perspective
“I’m not a teacher, but my mom was one of the worst parents to show up to my school’s parent-teacher conferences. She was half delirious on cold medicine but still decided to come anyway. She tried to ask my teacher to grab a drink later, however, she couldn’t really get the words out. She also got offended when she found out that she wouldn’t be getting laid that night.
She stared at the student artwork on the wall for a while before snatching a drawing, stuffing it in her purse, and loudly declaring, ‘I’m keeping it.’ (I later got it back and had to paste it to a piece of cardboard to flatten it out). As she left, she broke her high heel and threw the shoe on the roof of the school while screaming about suing everybody. My teachers basically just told her that I was doing well and were very understanding. Unfortunately, some of the students just assumed that she was a sloppy mess.
I think the worst part was that she didn’t even remember any of it, so she never apologized to my teachers or any of the school administration.”
Called A Liar
“This was not at a conference, but I once had an irate mother who burst into my classroom after school. The first thing she said was, ‘You’re a liar, and everything that you say is a lie.’ She then went on a tirade and started yelling all kinds of accusations from:
‘How I refused to accept her daughter’s homework,’
‘How I refused to help her daughter after school,’
‘How I was prejudiced,’
‘How I was an ineffective teacher.’
After about 10 minutes of this, she finally stopped to make eye contact with me while waiting to see/hear my response. I could’ve defended myself against all of her accusations, but instead, I just reminded her that the first thing she had said to me was ‘How she believed that everything I said was a lie.’ However, if she ever chose to change her mind, then she was welcome to come back at another time to discuss all of this.
She stormed out of my classroom.”
Landing The Role
“I did a year or three of work in a school on their extracurricular activities that included their school musicals and became infamous for my way of handling parents who disagreed with casting. Apparently, it’s not very diplomatic to tell a parent that their child didn’t get the role because they weren’t good enough and that if they would’ve liked to see their child improve, then there was a list of local groups who offered some advancements on top of these opportunities that were given from the school.
I recall one conversation in particular that was very short:
“Why didn’t my child get this part?’
‘There was someone else better for the role.’
‘But my child is the best!’
‘If that were true, then your child would have the role.’
The parent just stared at me for a minute and then stormed out. The kid just watched her mom storm out, looked back at me, and then went, ‘Sorry about that. She’s a bit over-the-top. I’ll let my dad know’ and skipped out merrily.
She was a smart kid who had learned a lot. She was given the leading role the following year because she had put in the work to become the best and cried happy tears when she had received the news because she saw it as the end result of all of that hard work.
Cue another visit from the parent. Her mom comes back in and says, “So, my child is the best now is she? Well, why didn’t she get a big role last year then?”
So close yet so far.”