I know there’s going to be trouble as soon as I hear those fateful words: “My child tells me everything!”
No, he doesn’t. What teen-ager would actually tell his parent everything? (What adult child does that?) When parents believe they know everything about their children, it creates difficulties at school.
There was the day a mom showed up in my classroom doorway after school, fire in her eyes. She told me her son had climbed into the car and complained that I was accusing him of using bad language at school. She knew her son better than that – and she knew he never lied to her. In fact, he’d gotten teary about the whole matter, and when she asked him if he wanted her to talk to the teacher, he’d said yes. “Do you think,” she said, “that he would send me in here if he were guilty?”
Yes, as a matter of fact, I did. What better way to convince your mother of your innocence than to work up some tears and agree to having her confront the teacher?
The reality was that not only had students reported to me about this young man’s language, but I had seen it in intercepted notes. He was guilty.
I did not try to convince his mom of this, but I didn’t back down either. I took the middle ground, suggesting he speak more carefully so no one could misinterpret what he’d said.
I promise you that the child you see at home is not the same child you see at school. She may not be badly behaved, but she’s either not as chatty – or moreso; not as quiet – or moreso; not as serious – or moreso. . .you see where I’m heading. When middleschoolers hang around with their peers, they’re different from who they are in their families. It’s normal – a part of figuring out who they are as individuals.
Your task is to discover all the versions of your child and put them together into the whole 3D picture. And remember – the picture will change often in the next few years!