I have a front row seat to one of the greatest shows on Earth. You see I get to watch the teachers in my building work magic everyday. Many get to school before I have even finished my breakfast and some do not leave until I am tucking my children in for bed. Their dedication is amazing and spending time with them each day is an honor.
This is why when I hear folks blame teachers for low test scores, poor behavior or low motivation I cringe. I can’t begin to imagine how teachers could do anymore. And so the next place to blame is the home. Parents and guardians are very easy targets because they are not us. Why would we blame ourselves when we know that we are doing all that we possibly can?
A child comes in without their homework. Their parents must not take their education seriously.
A child misbehaves in class. Their parents must not teach them right from wrong.
A child comes to school disheveled and a mess. Their parents must not care enough to properly dress and groom their child before they come to school.
Well, I can say from experience that sometimes the above statements are in fact true. But I can also say that many times they are not. And we should always assume the best and give each parent the benefit of the doubt. We should because it’s the right thing to do and we should because we would want our children’s teachers to do the same for us.
Thankfully my son’s daycare provider, Miss Janet, had known me for years and had always given me much latitude when it came to some of my parenting skills, or lack thereof.
Let me elaborate. I was the one that usually dropped my son off at daycare and oftentimes I was rushed because I simply wait until the last-minute. Well I’ll never forget the week I had two incidents that further convinced me to give parents the benefit of the doubt.
One morning I was in such a hurry that I somehow dropped my son off with his, uh, how do I say this gently? His little friend was not tucked all the way in his diaper or his pants. How does one miss that?! If I were to ever have a child walk into my school as my son did that week I would’ve probably speed-dialed social services. Luckily Miss Janet knew that I am often in a hurry and she knew that I am a good parent. Despite not properly securing my son’s little friend before dropping him off.
Later on that week I had another incident that further tested Miss Janet’s faith in me. You see, my son was in the process of potty training so he had been experimenting with underwear. Well on this particular day my son didn’t quite make it to the potty chair in time. So he peed. All over himself. Cleaning and changing him last-minute was not that big a problem. I have to do it often because he somehow times his “heavy diapers” so they take place right before we are getting ready to walk out the door.
But on this occasion my son not only soaked his clothes, he also soaked the only decent pair of shoes he has. There was no “wiping them off”. My only other option was sending him in his old shoes which have huge holes causing half his foot to stick out of the shoe. I explained all of this to Miss Janet when I walked him in. As I mentioned earlier, she knows me and she gave me the benefit of the doubt. Thankfully!
Here’s the thing. I have lived and currently live a very charmed life. I am married so I have the luxury of having an amazing wife helping me raise my children. I work only one job and really don’t want for anything. Once I walk through the door each evening my entire focus can be on my family.
What about those that aren’t so lucky? Who are raising numerous children? By themselves. Working two jobs. Without all of the means that I have been afforded.
Can’t we give them the benefit of the doubt? I think we must. I think we owe it to them and we owe it to ourselves. What is the alternative? Thinking the worst of others? That is not right and it is not moral.
I would never want to be judged on my worst moments. I also realize that many of my students’ parents unfortunately have many more worst moments than I do, simply based on the cards life dealt them.
Take it from me. If I had been judged based on my parenting performance that week I would probably still be collecting bail money instead of publishing this post. So, please do your best week this week to give parents the benefit of the doubt. They deserve it and you will too one day soon. Trust me.
I do not understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.
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