Are teachers good parents?

From managing many students at school, to managing her own children at home, parenting can be a tough task for a teacher. But here's how some teachers manage to strike a balance

By Shashwathi Sandeep

Are teachers good parents?

This is not your school; this is home!’ These words might seem all too familiar if you are a parent and a teacher. Complaints and confusions seem never-ending. You can’t bring your stern school persona home, unless you are keen on incurring the wrath of your family. In the same manner, you can’t go to school and pamper your students, like you would do at home. A classic chicken and egg situation.

“It is very difficult being a parent-teacher, because most times you forget where you are,” says Sridevi Rudriah, principal of KRMM School in Chennai. “There have been several instances when I have used a harsh tone on my children only to have them criticise me for acting like a teacher at home. The line between being a teacher and a parent is really quite thin.”

Parent Circle speaks to a few parents who are also teachers, to get a better understanding on how they strike a balance.

Discipline

Whether you are a parent or a teacher, you would want to inculcate a sense of discipline in your wards. But, you can’t use the same disciplining yardstick at both home and school.

“At school, I have always been strict with my students,” says Mumbai-based teacher, Syeed Ahmad Siddiqui, who has more than 25 years of experience in the profession. “Though I am strict with my own children, I never take a harsh tone. I explain things to them just once and they understand,” he explains.

Shefali Lakhina, programme coordinator at Pathways School, Gurgaon, has a different take. “Since ours is an international school, we believe in giving our children freedom. We have a lot of discussions and also counselling sessions whenever required. I follow the same at home. I give my two boys all the freedom they want. In fact, being a teacher has helped me become a better parent,” she says.

Homework

There is no escaping it! As a teacher, you have to pull up students who’ve been irregular with submissions. And as a parent, you need to make sure your child doesn’t give other teachers the opportunity to rebuke!

“I personally give homework a lot of importance,” says Shefali. “Being a teacher myself, I do understand that homework is given only if necessary. So, if my children are not able to finish their homework, I send a note to the teacher, because I would expect the same from the parents of my students.”

T Thangamani, physical director of CD Nayagam Higher Secondary School in Chennai, has a unique way of dealing with the homework conundrum. “I don’t believe in using force with my son. I know that he is a good student and usually does his best to turn in his assignments on time. But there are those rare days when he doesn’t feel like sitting down with his homework. I don’t force him on such occasions. I let him decide and accept responsibility for his actions.”

Parent and child in the same school 

Having your child study in the school in which you teach has its advantages and disadvantages. First, the positives – your children don’t have to lug around separate lunchboxes, you can approach their teachers with ease and keep track of their assignments!

The big negative though is the burden of expectations. “My children are at a disadvantage. Since they (the other teachers) know that I am their mom, they expect a lot more from my children. There are times when they start comparing. I have told my children not to take much notice of such things,” says Shefali.

Parent-teacher meet (of a different kind)

As a parent-teacher, how do you handle PTA meetings?

“At school, we counsel other parents. But there is a role reversal when we go to our children’s school,” says Dr Vaskar Sengupta, Deputy Director of Amity School of Hospitality.

“This can be a challenge because when parents are also teachers, they are bound to have a fixed mind. They tend to compare the policies in their children’s school with the ones in the school where they teach.”

Preeti Dahiya, a mother of two, who runs the Junior Star Playschool in Faridabad believes in a simple approach. “When it comes to meeting my children’s teachers, I keep things real. I take into consideration the teacher’s perspective and have faith that she is doing the best for my children,” she asserts.

‘I have 1,200 children!’

It is a challenging task alright, but being a teacher-parent has its benefits too. “I understand my children better. I am much more aware of the way my children feel about certain things. It also helps me keep up with the latest trends,” chuckles Shefali.

There is no better way to sum it up than what Sridevi had to say. “Recently, when someone asked me how many children I have, I said 1,200. They were shocked! And, that is when I realised they were asking about my own children. We teachers do not see much of a difference between our own children and our students. We feel very proud when each one of them turns out successful in life.”

It is very difficult being a parent and a teacher, because most times you forget where you are. There have been several instances when I have used a harsh tone on my children only to have them criticise me for acting like a teacher at home.