It is rather common for me to think about how I can raise my children to be the best people possible. I am often found feeling guilty because I'm sure I'm messing them up for life because of my imperfections as a human being. But I'm always trying to work on it...to find a better way to teach them to be responsible, faithful, non-annoying adults when they grow up.
It has been interesting for me this year as Joel deals with all types of parents over at the high school. He even had one at the University, which is even more shocking. But, I find myself learning from these parents, even it is how not to be. Here are three of the situations he's had to deal with, and what I've learned from them as a parent myself.
Situation #1: Joel, like all public education music teachers in the entire world, encourages his students to take private instrument lessons wherever possible. It just isn't feasible for him to be able to give the kind of attention each kid needs in order to be proficient players. I mean, he's practically Superman, but even he has limits.
A mother totally gave him a lecture because it has "hurt her child's self esteem" to be told that private lessons would be beneficial. (FYI, she wasn't told personally...it was a blanket statement to the entire class.)
Okay. So. Does this mother not realize that there isn't a single well-known musician in the world that is totally self-taught? I mean, the really good ones have had lessons since they were toddlers practically. Those ten-year old prodigies are not prodigies just because they one day picked up a violin or sat down at a piano and could suddenly play Paganini and Liszt flawlessly. No sir. They had guidance and direction. And lots of practice. And definitely private lessons. And of course raw talent, but in my mind that's the least of it. And then there's that "self-esteem" word. I hate it. I wish parents would realize that kids who are required to work hard and have more responsibility have much more healthy self-esteem than those who are coddled and spoiled and not made to do anything.
Situation #2: This one's at the University. One of his students, who is in his thirties, got placed at 4th chair for his instrument. His mother came to Joel and told him that this student's feelings were hurt and that Joel really should move his seating up.
Really, I have the same thoughts here. Why is it okay to give somebody something they don't deserve just because their feelings or self-esteem are hurt because they weren't able to get it on their own merit? Why should the leader of a group sacrifice quality to save feelings? And then what about the feelings of those players who actually do deserve the higher seats when they are demoted in the name of someone else's self-esteem? And how on earth can a self-esteem be strengthened really, if your mom is always going to battle for you and getting you what you want when you are 35 years old? Seriously.
Situation #3: Last week or so a mother came into Joel's classroom while he was teaching and demanded that he meet with her right then. They went into his office and she proceeded to tell him off for the following: Not allowing her child to send text messages during class. Not allowing her to talk to her neighbor in the middle of rehearsal. Requiring her to play in the concerts. Requiring her to go to Region Orchestra, which was really what this meeting was about. She wasted around 45 minutes of his classtime, and was one of those people that don't let you out.
I think I'm seeing a theme here. Oh, and this particular mother was the "president for the child advocacy group at the high school." Joel later found out that she does this to every teacher if her children are required to do anything...like homework, for instance. And also, that this "child advocacy group" doesn't even exist, except in her own mind.
Hopefully I don't have to explain why I have such difficulty understanding this particular mother. Whatever happened to teaching our children responsibility and hard work and that life isn't fair and you get what you get and you don't throw a fit and all the rest of it? Joel says her child has the worst attitude in the class, so that really says something to me. Also, the mother went to talk to the Vice Principal about the issues she had with Dr. Neves, and told him that she thinks it is great Joel is so strict and runs a tight ship. Just not for her child.
All right. End of rant.
Please slap me across the face if you find me acting like any of these parents.