Dick Yarbrough, Syndicated columnist
Great minds run in pairs. I read an interesting opinion piece in the Atlanta newspapers recently about parenting. The author, Beth Collums, has a master’s degree in clinical psychology and experience as a child and family therapist. She is also a parent.
Collums states something we all know but tend to forget: Children are impressionable. They mimic their parents’ behavior. If they see momma or daddy screaming at a school board meeting, how are the kids going to act when something doesn’t go their way? Boorish behavior begets boorish behavior.
Which brings me to the second great mind on this particular subject — Carla, who runs the Yarbrough household and all within it. Carla, too, is a parent. Her youngest is turning 16 and is both academically and athletically gifted. At this young age, she has already decided to become a lawyer and later a judge. Big dreams at 16, but why not?
Carla is not quite as introspective on the subject of bad parenting as is Collums. Her bottom line is to hold the adults personally accountable for the bad behavior of the child. If some kid disrupts school for whatever reason, find the adult responsible and toss their derriere in jail. They are the cause of that behavior.
No question she feels strongly about this. Carla is a mama bear about her daughter’s education and is the reason the young lady is excelling. She has witnessed apathetic and absentee adults who don’t give a rip about their child’s behavior impacting her own child’s efforts to learn and then want to blame everybody but themselves.
My son-in-law, who was once named Georgia’s Teacher of the Year, retired after 31 years in the public school system. He said it was easy to identify the students most likely to succeed in the classroom. Their parents were involved in their child’s education and trusted the teacher to do his or her job.
My brother and I were raised by parents who grew up in rural Georgia when education was not valued. Neither made it past the seventh grade. That was not going to happen to their boys, both of whom they saw graduate from college.
Most important, they backed my teachers even when I tried eloquently to rationalize one of my dumb-as-a-rock decisions to them. To my parents, the teacher was usually right, I was usually wrong and as much as I hate to admit it, that was usually the case.
Collums rightly points out that teachers are on the front line, trying to make a positive difference. She says they need our respect and support and that teachers don’t go into the profession to get rich but “because they want to sow good into the world.” As the father, grandfather and fatherin- law of dedicated public schoolteachers, I say “amen.”
Fast forward to today’s cacophonous world. Many children reside in an atmosphere where parents loudly denigrate those who have a different point of view from their own. They show disrespect to educators, yell at school board meetings and blithely ignore the fact they are turning their impressionable offspring into clones of their own worse side. Collums cites a survey by the America Psychological Association that says 42% of bullying, threats, online harassment and slurs directed at school administrators come from parents. And they expect their children to behave?
She says if civil discourse and calm assertion aren’t exhibited at home, it is no surprise that those kinds of tensions will carry over into the schoolhouse. That manifests itself into an environment where teachers, who already have a boatload of problems not of their own making, have an even more difficult time teaching and trying to get students to learn.
In short, Collums, the child and family therapist, says parents need to behave themselves, become positive role models for their children and support the educators who are trying their best to educate the next generation. To which Carla, who runs the Yarbrough household and all within it, says if they refuse to do that, when their kids threaten, bully or harass at school, park their fannies in the pokey until they decide to take responsibility. One complex subject. Two great minds. While we are on the subject of education, in my paean to the Vidalia onion last week I stated that Vidalia was the county seat of Toombs County. Actually, it is Lyons. Give me a “F” for attention to detail and an “A” for humbly admitting my mistake. Just don’t tell Carla.