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Ask Margaret - When Your Parent-Teacher Conference Doesn't Go So Well

by What Fresh Hell: Laughing in the Face of Motherhood
December 14th 2020
This week Margaret’s talking about parent-teacher conferences, after writing about her own most recent conferences on our social media. At one of the conferences, Margaret heard amazing things: her c... More
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to ask Margaret from what fresh hell laughing in the face of motherhood. Answering your parenting dilemmas. One question at a time. This'll weeks asked. Margaret isn't so much and ask Margaret because it didn't come from a question from our listener. It's kind of a Margaret tells something. I'm talking a little bit today about essay that I wrote on Facebook about parenting conferences, and I wanted to delve into it a little deeper this morning. For those of you who haven't read it, you can check it out at facebook dot com. Forward slash What fresh hell cast. And I'm talking today about parent conferences because this week a lot of us are having our semi annual parenting conferences where we go and meet with the kids teachers about how the year is going. And we had an experience this week where we had a parent teacher conference for one of our kids that went swimmingly amazingly, you know, the kind of parent teacher conference you dream about, where we were told that our kiddo was doing amazing and is a great reader and is above grade level

, and it's kind of nice to peers, and it was wonderful and very, you know, soul filling and made us feel like we were doing great. And I realized in experiencing that emotion that we have also had parent teacher conferences that were not as amazing that with some of our other kids we've heard about struggles that they're having, that they're having trouble sitting still that they're not at grade level in certain subjects. And it made me reflect on this whole idea of parent teacher conferences and how they can sometimes leave us feeling really bad, like we're doing a bad job. And so I wanted to talk a little bit today about that experience and really just give everyone kind of ah, at a girl at a boy and let people know that we all have different experiences of our kids in school. Some kids really, really thrive in a school environment. Some kids are just built for school, and we have one of those a kid who just goes in. They have a natural love of learning and a natural ability to thrive, but something I've talked a lot about with

a lot of people, especially my sister in law, who runs a school and has talked me off the ledge. Sometimes when I've had kids who are not having such an easy time in school. School is not a totally natural experience for some kids in school, especially as we get into the middle school ages. But even in elementary school, you haven't experience where you move throughout the day to different disciplines. You go to English class, math class art class. You go to recess where it's social time. There's a lot of different things going on in school that could be challenging for kids and for some kids, whether or not they have learning differences. Theis experience of having to show a range of skills in a different set of disciplines all day is not playing into their strengths. I was a kid who waas I was decent in school. I happened to have three siblings who were extremely good at school. And so I was kind of the kid who was like, Well, you know, Meg's kind of not doing all these other things

that the other kids were doing exactly correctly. And I know it was really stressful for my parents, and now I'm experiencing that as a parent with kids who are, you know, not able to thrive perfectly in the school environment. And that's something that I think we should talk about a little bit more as parents, because it does feel like this huge test of our abilities, right? It feels like, Okay, you're going to now go on and get your report card. And somebody on the Facebook thread commented that they had a teacher say, Whatever you're doing, it's great. Keep doing it. And then a year later, for a different kid heard a different report. And the implication is the opposite. Whatever you're doing, it's not good enough. You're not doing it right. You're falling down on the job, and I think we need to back away from that story to some degree. And we need to realize that we don't actually have as much control over how our kids perform in school as we think we dio. If you are listening to a parenting podcast as you are right now, it lets me know that you're trying. You're really out there trying to figure out how to do this the best way

you can and that you have to then let go a little bit of being results oriented in. My kid got an A plus, and more importantly, I got an A plus because I'm the best student, Amy says. You know, wanting to be the best person at the dentist who has the least plaque like we do this to ourselves, this idea of we are being judged and we must make it all come out okay. And I think it's important to remember to let go of that a little bit and to say, You know, our kids may have skills that don't show up on report cards are kids may struggle in a school environment and were there to stand by Our kids stand with our kids, advocate for our kids, But we are not there to make sure that it all turns out perfectly. And I sometimes hear people talk about this in terms of, well, my kid really struggle. But now look, they just got into Harvard. That may not happen for your kid. You may have a kid who struggles academically, who has to find a different pathway that is

not going to a four year college and getting a great job that pays really well because they've thrived. You may have a kid who is on a different path, and so I'm always happy to have teacher conferences where I hear what's not going well because it gives us a place to concentrate our efforts. It gives us a place. Thio go with information. But what I'm trying to work on is this idea that I am going into parent teacher conferences to either be told I'm a great parent or be told I'm a bad parent. And that is what I'm trying to give you guys today. This idea that we can go in and accept information and we can help our kids. But we're not there to say, Did we somehow passed the test? And to take the long view of this, a kid who's doing amazing an elementary school and is winning every prize, Maybe a kid who struggles with stuff you don't see coming, Ah, kid who's really struggling, maybe a kid who figures it out later on. And whatever that outcome is, our job is to be

there and be as helpful assed possible. But as we say often we're not driving our kids boat, our kids driving their own boat, and we're kind of standing on the sidelines being like tech left were not there to take over the wheel and make sure this comes out okay. And I think parent teacher conferences is a really fraught area where we sometimes have that feeling of like, Oh, this is a test about how well I'm driving the boat. This is a parent and a teacher working together to figure out if we can help kids course correct, and not about whether or not we're doing it perfectly. Guys, I hope that helps and give some perspective at this fraught, fraught time of the year. If you have a question for myself for Amy, you can send them to questions at what fresh hell podcast dot com. Or you can post them on our Facebook group at facebook dot com. Forward slash what fresh hell cast and we may answer your question on an upcoming episode. Thanks for listening, and we'll talk to you next time.

Ask Margaret - When Your Parent-Teacher Conference Doesn't Go So Well
Ask Margaret - When Your Parent-Teacher Conference Doesn't Go So Well
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