Another Letter to Parents About “That Kid”

I daresay we’ve all seen the letter by now. An incredibly beautiful piece written by a devoted teacher and a wonderful woman, regarding the parents who complain about such-n-such child of such-n-such trouble in the classroom. If you have not yet read it, here it is.

Since this gem of a blog was posted, the interweb has been full of other personal responses to this, but none that I’ve seen that quite targeted some of the thoughts I’ve had since the original post.

So, Dear Parents, you feel your child is still being ignored. You get it. You read the post, you read the other posts, and you not a horrible monster of a human being. You feel for That Kid even with the limited understanding you have. You want That Kid to have all the help and structure and success and chances to become the best human possible. You may want to reach out, assist, volunteer in the classroom.

But… your own kid, the run-of-the-mill kid of neurotypical wonder, the one who at the end of the day means the most to you, is still getting ignored as everyone races to help That Kid. Your Kid, the one who truly is doing nothing, is still the victim of violent outbursts and pinches and bites and has so little protection unless actual permanent harm is done. Your Kid, the one whose learning is interrupted every time the teacher sweeps in to calm That Kid, is still the one you, the parent, worry about.

And while you know that teaching Your Kid compassion will certainly make him a better person and can help navigate that school day, you still hate to see him thrown to the sidelines.

Here is a secret: It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You and Your Kid don’t have to become martyrs. You can love That Kid and her family without giving up on Your Kid.

Because you are the parent and there is a far bigger world out there than school and a child who might be disrupting it now and then or even constantly.

Teach Your Kid how to stand up for herself. Just because he is not a bully does not mean he deserves to be harmed by That Kid. Don’t condone violence, but encourage self-protection. This not only helps Your Kid but can even go a long way in teaching That Kid limits and social skills. Your Kid does not need to just “take it”.

Teach Your Kid to learn. He has no excuse to blame long-term bad grades on the behavior of someone else. Your Kid is an independent, strong, capable child… or at least has the potential to be, I hope. Your Kid should be seeking every drop of information coming from the teacher’s mouth no matter how greater or lesser she is involved with That Kid. Besides that, Your Kid can learn outside the school, too.

Advocate for Your Kid. If that classroom is such a negative learning environment that Your Kid is truly at a loss, do something about it. Switch classrooms. Schools. Educational systems. Plan for a better next year and let this year be a lesson in understanding if nothing else.

Communicate. If things are so bad for Your Kid, let people know! Reach out to the teacher, the principal, even that other family. No one can fix what they don’t know to be broken.

Yes, That Kid deserves understanding and compassion and the best educational experience he can get. And so does Your Kid. Your Kid just happens to be in a position where she can ask more for herself on her own, better make sense of social cues, control herself all the more. Whenever you and Your Kid can, do all that can be done to grow. Don’t let That Kid be an excuse for all the bad things that happen to Your Kid.