Behind Closed Doors

Today was the dreaded Parent-Teacher Conference Day. Do parents realize how much teachers hate this day? First, we have to work from noon to 7 PM. Then, who wants to give bad news to parents? As it usually goes, though, you only get the parents whose kids are doing great, and the parents you really need to talk to don’t show up.

I never have many parents. I always send sign-up sheets for times, and it never fails that someone who signed up doesn’t come, or someone who didn’t sign up comes, or someone comes at a different time that the one they signed up for. And there’s always the parent that shows up at 6:50 and you end up staying past 7 PM.

So my 6:50 parent was a mom who ended up in tears. She has four teenage boys and she is upset because they won’t talk to her. They won’t come to the table for dinner. They seem angry at her and her husband. She wants them to go to counseling, but they won’t. One of the boys told her he wants to die. She shared that the boys want to go out with their friends, but she and her husband won’t let them because their friends are bad influences. I tried to comfort her as best I could and told her that all teenagers are like that, not just hers, but she didn’t seem convinced. So we walked down to the guidance counselor’s office and went over the situation and hopefully we can get the boys some help.

I was pretty flabbergasted. I’ve never met Hispanic parents that are so strict. I’ve never had a parent break down in front of me (that I can remember). This lady’s son is in my Algebra class and he seems like a well-adjusted student. He understands most of what I teach. He’s got friends, he’s socially okay, he listens and participates in class. I would never have known anything was going on at home. I’ve also never had a parent ask me to help them get counseling before. This mom is doing all the right things, and her kids just aren’t responding because they want more independence. She’s setting boundaries, she’s trying to talk with her kids, she’s trying to get help. I am impressed. And I hope that if there really is a problem, and it’s not just teenage angst, then this family can be helped.

I wonder what Madeleine will be like when she’s a teenager. I kind of dread it, considering she can already be pretty belligerent and stubborn at 4. But my mom and I had a pretty good relationship when I was a teen, and I always talked to her. Maybe that will happen with Madeleine and I. Probably not, but I can hope.

I keep thinking about how important building a family is, and how Steven and I need to lay a good foundation now in order to have strong family ties when the kids are teens. So much responsibility!


  1. Marie says:

    I completely agree. I worry about when the kids are older- if they will talk to us and listen to our wisdom. Matt and I try hard all the time to make sure that the kids know that we are there to listen and that we love them no matter what their mistakes are. Hopefully that will continue to be in the forefront of their minds as they enter into the teen years and will help our relationships remain close!

  2. Stacy says:


    I think that a lot of parents (including myself) worry about this. I guess all we can do is our best. I am already worried about Kindergarten next year!!! Lewis and Madeline have been so lucky to have such a controlled environment and children to play with whose parents we know and see on a daily basis. What are we going to do next year? 🙂 I will need counseling!

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