When Parents Get It Right

Being childless, I cannot claim to know how difficult being a parent is, but I have found on many occasions that I have become agitated by the lack of consideration and discipline that children and young teenagers demonstrate when are out in public, and working with teenagers for nearly ten years, I have witnessed numerous examples where parents have made excuses for their children, rather than addressing poor behaviour that the child should have been made accountable for. While I don’t believe that any children are bad, I have judgements in the past, whether rightly or wrongly, when I have observed parents making these excuses. One of my biggest annoyances is the disruption that is frequently caused by children and teenagers when attempting to watch a movie at the cinema, and I have written about this on several occasions.

However, a story appeared on my Facebook feed this morning that made me want to punch the air and shout a resounding ‘yes!’ when I read it.

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Image: Rebecca Boyd

On Friday night, Rebecca Boyd took her 12 year-old daughter to see the new Cinderella movie. Her husband had just been made redundant from his job and this would be the last film that they would be able to see for a while, and they were hoping for an enjoyable time.

Unfortunately, (as I have personally experienced on many occasions), their evening was repeatedly disrupted by two teenage girls who were misbehaving throughout – kicking the seats, talking, giggling – and this continued even when Boyd asked them to stop. At the end of the movie, Boyd sent her daughter to the car and spoke to the teens outside the cinema, explaining how their behaviour affects others and her husband’s situation.

In an interview given with Yahoo!Parenting, Boyd explained that she didn’t blame the teens parents, despite being annoyed by the girls behaviour.

However, the teens mother was furious… at her children. The girls were at the movie with their brother, who told their mom everything. Kyesha Smith Wood, whose daughter and step-daughter were the teens who has caused the trouble posted this to Facebook:

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Image: Kyesha Smith Wood/ Facebook

The post went viral, and the comments that Wood received were hugely positive for making her children accountable for their actions.

The post eventually made it to Boyd, who was touched by the response and after connecting over Facebook they hit it off. Since then, both women have been interviewed on numerous occasions, and have demonstrated the upmost respect for each other. Wood told AL.com “A lot of times people get nervous about saying something to a stranger’s kids. We as a community need to hear this, that there are parents out there who still believe in old-fashioned methods.”

And the teens? In an interview with ABC 33/40, Wood explained that they were embarrassed.”They’re humiliated, but that’s ok. I told them, ‘you know what? You’re never going to do it again.’ ”

Both women should be absolutely applauded for their handling of the situation, for supporting each other as parents and for making the girls accountable for their actions. With parents like these, I’m sure that all of their children will grow up to be outstanding young people.

Bravo!

What do you think? As a parent, would you react in the same way?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

Never Underestimate the Resilience of a Teenager

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Image: Little Britain, BBC

Teenagers get a bad rep. Daily media reports are littered with stories of stealing, assaults, stabbings, underage pregnancy, a genuine lack of respect for the rest of human society and their intimidating presence when hanging on street corners in groups, smoking, drinking and being raucous has earned them the title of ‘chavs’ here in the UK. Parodies of these are immensely popular in comedy sketch shows such as ‘Vicki Pollard’ in Little Britain and ‘Lauren’ in The Catherine Tate Show.

After nearly ten years of working with teenagers, these reports annoy me. Of course, there are bad eggs in every element of society, but I have been privileged to work with thousands of wonderful young people who are fantastic role models with supportive families and I genuinely enjoy witnessing their development during their education. They work hard, offer intelligent conversation, have ambition and make me laugh. I’m proud of them. Despite the demands and the pressures of teaching, it’s an extremely rewarding aspect of the profession.

However, there are some students who aren’t as lucky. There was one particular student who stood out for me today, to the point where I felt a little emotional. To protect his identity, I’m going to call him X.

X is an older student and in his short lifetime he has experienced more than most, with very little family support and guidance. Obviously, I have to refrain from giving details, but after hearing his story when I first began teaching him I was left with a feeling of anger at the way he has been treated. I shouldn’t be judgemental – I don’t have children of my own and therefore couldn’t possibly understand how difficult it is, but in my career I have witnessed several examples of parents that simply shouldn’t have been allowed to reproduce.

X has such parents. Lots of children in his situation would act out. Lots would have an anger management problems, get into the wrong crowd, start to get into trouble with the law and essentially would give up. Not X. X arrives on time, has a good attendance record, is polite, respectful, hard-working and friendly. While he struggles with some of his work, he tries really hard and genuinely wants to do well. He turns up, on his own, to parents evenings. He participates in lots of extra-curricular activities. He associates with lovely friends and has a brilliant relationship with his teachers. He’s one of the most resilient teenagers I have ever met.

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Image: brightside

Today the students were in the process of finalising some of the last pieces of their coursework for a project they have been working on all term. They’re all excited about the impending holidays and have spent a lot of time discussing what they expect to receive for Christmas. Their work is certainly not a priority. X looked tired and I asked him if he was ok. His response?

“I’m fine, just tired. I was up late last night doing my coursework because I want to get a good grade. If I email this work to you, can you let me know what I need to do to improve before Christmas so I can do the work over the holidays and get above my target grade.”

If I was allowed to hug him, I would have done. What an amazing kid.