Parents using lawyers to attack schools
An opinion by John Cowan of The Parenting Place
Before parents call their lawyers to battle a school, they should think about how that intervention will impact their
kids. If it is a battle against a genuine injustice then fair enough. Children, no less than adults, are entitled to
fair treatment. The argument that “life isn't fair and they need to learn that” in no way justifies unprofessional
behaviour from those we entrust our children to. I believe (or rather I hope) this is very rare, but if it happens, we
shouldn’t roll over and accept a raw deal for our kids. By all means protect your children from injustice but there are
two things you should allow your children to be exposed to: disappointment and the consequences of their poor decisions.
Firstly, disappointment: not every child makes it into the First XV or the school play; that’s tough but that’s life.
Your child’s success in life will depend far more on their character and resilience than it will on a flash record of
achievement from school. If our kids need to repeat a year at school, or sit out half a game on the sideline, or sing in
the chorus instead of being a main star in the show, then of course you sympathise with their pain and then coach them
to make the most of that experience to lift their game so they can get to where they want to be. If there is a motto for
success it would be, “Do the hard thing”; precious little hot house flowers whose parents have robbed them of the
experience of coping with disappointment are going to have a tough time in life.
Secondly, rescuing children from experiencing the consequence of their dumb decisions and mischief is absolutely the
best way to set your children up for an unhappy life. One of the worst things that can happen to your child is for them
to get into a lot of trouble but one of the best things that can happen is for them to get into a little bit of trouble.
Sometimes a fright or a penalty, from school, the Police or a parent, is just the jolt some kids need to get back on
track. For example, headlines tell us about recidivist young criminals but the vast majority of young people who get
handled by the youth justice system do not reappear before the courts.
In my experience, teachers are parents’ best allies in sorting problems with children. I doubt if many teachers are in
the job for the money, the glamour or the fast cars: most of them actually like kids and want to help them. They also
have experience, training and spend hours and hours with our children. Most times, their perspective on a situation will
be spot on but if it is not, they or their school will be open to hear your perspective. That’s most of the time – but
sometimes we do have to go into bat for our kids. I wish you good luck… or a good lawyer.