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Lawnmower parents

(16 Posts)
Foenie Fri 28-Sep-18 04:49:09

How do you deal with the typical lawnmower parent, specifically at secondary level? The type who will question every detention given, attempt to get their children out of every detention possible, even if perfectly justified?

I'm getting to the point where I'm sick and tired of having to justify using the behaviour policy over and over, for parents to ring up the school, question my every move and then deciding whether they will allow their children to attend a detention set for them.

As I'm new to my school I am still establishing myself and the students are trying it on, so naturally I have more behaviour issues than more established staff. It will get better in time; it always has. I will use the policy to a tee, school are supportive and say it's just the environment we teach in, but the constant need to justify myself to parents in what little time I have left during the day is starting to grind me down.

A colleague got pulled up by a parent the other day for only allowing 6 days for homework to be completed, not 7, ffs.

How do you deal with parents like that?

OP’s posts: |
TheMythicalChicken Fri 28-Sep-18 04:50:47

What’s a lawnmower got to do with it? Do t understand.

However, I do agree with you. I think it was Amy Chua who said you should always side with the teachers, even if you secretly think they’re wrong.

Foenie Fri 28-Sep-18 05:03:24

What’s a lawnmower got to do with it? Do t understand.

It's a fairly new label, similar to labelling someone as a helicopter parent. Lawnmower parents 'mow down' obstacles put into their children's paths, which may upset them or prevent them from doing what they desire. The idea being that their children never need to get upset or experience failure, because the adult will clear their path for them. Of course, it leads to far less resilient children over time.

I'm looking for strategies, really. I had someone argue the toss with me yesterday over a detention set for their DC, who thought it was appropriate to hand in an almost blank assessed piece of work to me. It's a mindset I fail to understand.

OP’s posts: |
nicebitofquiche Fri 28-Sep-18 05:27:35

I understand your frustration. I used to work with parents. I don't think you can do anything. There is a mentality among a growing group of parents who think their child can do no wrong and if you don't always side with your child you are a bad parent. It starts off when they are little when the parent doesn't tell them off or deny them anything because they don't like seeing them upset. If you've just started in the school stick to your guns. The pupils and parents will eventually realise that you won't back down. Unfortunately you get a new batch every year smile

JustHavinABreak Fri 28-Sep-18 05:33:54

Do all parents have a copy of the behaviour policy? Can you refer them back to that? And do so with a dazzling smile on your face? Perhaps with a sort of compliment sandwich? Little Johnny has such a wonderful enquiring mind. He's reluctant to focus it on his assignments at the moment and I really feel that if you take a look at Section B(2) you'll see what I mean. But you're his Mum. You know that he has a really bright future ahead of him if we just work together to get him to realise how important these tasks are.

faeriequeen Fri 28-Sep-18 05:55:03

Work that isn't to the required standard should be failed, but a detention seems a little harsh.
Maybe just schools IME but I'd reserve detentions for bad behaviour, rather than poor academic work.
Are there no other sanctions you can use?

shearwater Fri 28-Sep-18 06:02:58

A colleague got pulled up by a parent the other day for only allowing 6 days for homework to be completed, not 7, ffs.

Is the school rule that you should give 7 clear days to complete homework? If so, the teachers would get more respect if they stick to the rules themselves.

Foenie Fri 28-Sep-18 06:21:26

Maybe just schools IME but I'd reserve detentions for bad behaviour, rather than poor academic work.

I didn't give any sanctions for poor academic work. There were a few students achieving below target, but having at least tried. The students who decided to take a nap instead of attempting the work got punished. Why is this wrong?

OP’s posts: |
shouldwestayorshouldwego Fri 28-Sep-18 06:22:45

I had someone argue the toss with me yesterday over a detention set for their DC, who thought it was appropriate to hand in an almost blank assessed piece of work to me. It's a mindset I fail to understand.

I would reframe it as the curriculum is so packed that you need to make sure this topic is secure and you know that if Jonny makes the right choices now then he could do better in his GCSEs. You wouldn't want to go over it in front of the whole class so he needs to come at at different time, but he must cover it. Tell them that in the detention you will point out when you set the expectation of how long it should be so he knows to recognise next time the expectations, and then make him do the homework in the detention. Also check for any undiagnosed SEN. Maybe also if you have electronic homework tell the parents that you put minimum lengths of homework on the assignment so they can check this with their child and encourage them to do more. If it sounds more like individual tuition parents will be happier. Same with behaviour- meeting to discuss making the right choices so they can get better GCSEs. The child will still know it is a detention by any other name.

piefacedClique Fri 28-Sep-18 06:31:04

I love it! I’d never heard of that until now but I definately spoke to one last night! Im in a similar position to you but I’ve gone from being cover supervisor to teaching staff this year so am still setting boundaries.... I had a girl yesterday:..:: completed NO work, had NO equipment. Was given both and discreet support of a TA to catch up. Sat chewing through the lesson and making clicking sounds with her back to the myself, refusing to turn around. Can be emotionally fragile so was treated with kid gloves..... called dad last night... “ I can’t believe you are ringing me to tell me this... she’s being fucking bullied.... you can fuck off too.... she won’t be doing your fucking detention or catching up on the fucking work! phone slammed down!

Jaimx86 Fri 28-Sep-18 06:37:16

What’s the school policy if the child doesn’t attend detention? Our school policy is really robust. If the child doesn’t attend the first detention Mon-Thur, they are put into a whole school detention after school on Friday for double the length of time. If they don’t attend that, they are in isolation all day the following Monday - or when they next return to school.
The students soon learn to just do the first detention set.

MaisyPops Fri 28-Sep-18 07:18:34

I usually call the parents first to have a chat about the behaviour. It tends to be easier to have a reasonable chat with known lawnmower parents (as you put it) before they end up raging about how their child did nothing wrong because they've only been given half the story.

You've just got to be consistent even though it's a slog at times.

Keep it simple. This is the expectation and your child didn't meet it.
Avoid getting into 'you said Timmy was tapping his own but he wasn't (because technically it was a pencil)'. Focus on these are my expectations and the school. Your child didn't meet this. Some parents are as bad as the kids for 'yeah but she wasn't talking, she was whispering a question to the person behind her'
Focus on the potential each child has and communicate that to parents when you speak to them.
Avoid getting into whether the parent does/doesn't agree with the school behaviour policy (e.g. but thats a stupid rule...) If that's their issue then they need to arrange to speak to senior leadership about the whole school policy.
At random, make a couple of calls home to praise students from the class but don't tell the students.

If that fails, speak to your head of department to follow up and make sure you follow the behaviour policy to the letter.

CancerCarousel Sat 29-Sep-18 06:39:53

Snowplough Parents. That’s the term I’ve heard.

castasp Sat 29-Sep-18 07:06:49

I have this at my current school - it actually makes me feel better that someone else is having a similar problem (sorry!).

I've been in a long-running argument with one parent who will not let her child do detentions. The irony of it is, she then moans that he's in a 'bad' class and that I can't control the class, even though neither would be true, if I could just do my job and discipline her child (and others) as per the behaviour policy! It's funny how, after finally getting him to sit an after school detention (with a lot of management support), his behaviour has been almost perfect since. Aaaargh!

piefacedClique Sat 29-Sep-18 08:20:33

Someone from The Sun has clearly been reading this thread! 🤣. This today when I googled lawnmower parenting

Cauliflowersqueeze Sat 29-Sep-18 09:52:45

If the parents are used to phoning up and getting their child out of a detention all the time at your school and it’s all accepted then it’s pointless fighting it. So that’s the first piece of information you need.

If the school will back you up then continue, but I would (like @Maisypops) phone before Johnny gets home and explain what’s happened. Sometimes I get permission that day and then collect Johnny from his last lesson and tell him that it’s happening and that his parents are aware and not happy about the behaviour.

But in addition I think you do catch more flies with honey than vinegar and would be looking for every opportunity to praise and make positive contact with home where you can. If you have a wally mcwallyface in your class, spot him on a good day (quickly) and phone with something positive, then when you inevitably have to ring wanting support at least parents know that you’re trying to see the good in their son.

Calling before the child gets home is my tip. Because you can be sure that they will have painted the situation in a very different light!

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