Around here it’s time for parent-teacher conferences. I don’t know about you but any time another adult cares for my child and I get feedback, formally or informally, positive or negative, I struggle to respond properly.

When I hear the positive comments…

“Your son is so thoughtful. A new little girl to our Sunday School was upset and he sat right next to her and asked about her picture.” or “Your son has a great sense of humor.” or “He is such a cuddler.” or “He is the easiest baby in our class.”

I know a simple ‘thank you’ is appropriate, but instead I quickly respond with a qualifier: “True, but he can also be a handful”. 

Of course the positive comments are nice to get, but I’m quick to forget them.

The ones which get engrained in my brain? The criticisms.

Everyone of my boys has gone through a “season”. A time when I attempted to pick him up from class as quickly as possible, avoiding eye-contact with the teacher, and never asking “Did he have a good day?” Because I couldn’t handle hearing one more time about his imperfect behavior.

The good news about having had each boy go through a challenging season, is I’ve toughened up. a little. 

{Ok, there was the time recently when I picked up one of my boys from school on my birthday and heard he had been to the director’s office (for hitting, sticking his tongue out at the teacher, & throwing a chair).  I did get bleary eyed.  As I left the school I saw the director and I said, “Well, that wasn’t the best way to celebrate a birthday.” To which she responded, “Oh it’s his birthday?”…Uh NO, It’s mine! His trip to the director’s office affected MY birthday because I hadn’t completely separated his behavior from my parenting. But I’m better…}

From my multiple encounters with teachers regarding my boys (yes, the oldest is only in first grade…but he’s already been to 5 schools!)…here are a few things I’ve learned: 

1. Remember he is a sinner…

It’s true. As hard as it is to hear from someone else that your child isn’t perfect…the truth is, he/she isn’t perfect. He is a sinner. You are a sinner. We all have failed and fall short of the glory of God.

2. Don’t take responsibility for his behavior…

When I get feedback from teachers, I try to keep in mind I have trained him at home. The teachers have set up rules and consequences in their classroom. Any misbehavior at that point is on his head. He has to own it. Takes me back to the “let him be a jerk” idea. Don’t apologize for him. He can apologize for himself and receive the consequences himself.

3. Ask the teacher how you can help…

Often times I am so embarrassed that the teacher thinks I am a horrible parent that I start explaining reasons he may have misbehaved instead of asking how we can work together. I think a few times my defense included, “This isn’t my first rodeo”…um, that didn’t go over well. One teacher told me I needed to be tough now because it’s harder when they are teenagers…she assumed we didn’t give consequences at home. This allowed me to explain our discipline system.

4. Teach the teachers about your child…

One time the teacher asked for my thoughts on the situation and ways they could help.  I told her I found my son to be uniquely logical (for a two-year-old). How his stubbornness lessened when an adult clearly explained the “why”. In another situation I shared my son’s love language with his teacher. Helping her communicate he is loved which facilitated his willingness to cooperate.

 5. Have hope…

We all grow up. We all change. I’ve seen my boys change dramatically. In my post on MOB Society today (a letter to my son’s preschool teacher) I refer to Quade being chosen to speak in front of a thousand people. Quade, the son who almost was kicked out of mother’s day out when he was 2 years old. There is hope y’all.

Be encouraged. Stay the course. Parent with grace & truth. Pray.

I’ve been waiting for the perfect time to share this video with you. Given the fact that I already had this post written for today, and taking into account the Boston tragedy yesterday…I feel like the Scripture Quade quotes here is appropriate. Once you see Quade walk up to the podium you may need to turn up the volume…such a treasure this boy is to us. (If you are reading this post via email click here to watch the video).

Have you ever struggled with accepting criticism from a child’s teacher? What tips can you share (either from the parent or teacher’s perspective)?