I have a great job. Teaching is a joy because of the students.
Adults can make my life really hard, though, because they can be so utterly and sincerely cruel to the kids.
Here are some tips for things human beings should never say to other human beings who are not yet independent and look to adults for support and guidance.
1. If you get pregnant/get someone pregnant, I'm throwing you out of the house.
This is one of the cruelest things I have ever heard. Because what your kid has just heard is that your love is conditional. What you have just done is severed a communication artery, and your kids can't trust you to hear them. Let's say the kid does get pregnant, or gets someone pregnant? Who are they going to talk to?
There are plenty of ways to communicate to your kids about sex and sexuality. Don't be cowards about it. Giving information is giving power to make better choices.
Say something like this to a kid? Your kid will never trust you again. Nor should they.
2.Your kid tells you he's gay. You say, "You are not my child."
I can only understand saying this if your kid is Charles Manson.
Your kid is who he is. Sexual orientation is part of who he is. This may make you uncomfortable. That is not an excuse for saying something that you can't ever take back. Ever.
3. "Only losers get B's in school."
Here's what I say to my students, with thanks to Harper Lee: "People of character do the best they can with what they have."
I want kids to be challenged. Sometimes that means they work really hard and end up with A's, or B's, or C's.
Sometimes they slack off and need to work harder. Reality check: Did you do your best on every single assignment you ever had in the history of the world?
A lot of times if students aren't doing well they are struggling with other important stuff. Like working to help pay the bills. Like not having enough to eat. Like being worried that mom's new boyfriend is going to show up in her bedroom.
This does not make them losers.
This makes them human beings who need help and guidance.
I've been teaching for over twenty years, and I have dealt with the fallout of these statements. These wounds go soul-deep. Because kids believe stuff adults say for a long time. It's easier to believe that bad stuff.
It's hard to be a parent. It's hard to be a kid. It's hard to be a teacher.
Forget your label. Remember that you are a human being dealing with other human beings. Compassion goes a long way.