Teachers deserve a round of applause for the problems they encounter daily. From stubborn students to patronizing parents, teachers oftentimes deal with the worst of humanity. These teachers share how they dealt with insane and entitled parents in the classroom. Content has been edited for clarity.
“The flavor of ridiculousness I receive from parents pales in comparison to elementary, intermediate, and high school teachers. I taught a certain age group and specialization; young adults who wanted to go to Harvard Business School. I thought teaching in this specialization would keep me relatively immune to parent shenanigans, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The adults I taught were almost all very bright, competent, competitive, and dedicated to the learning process. The students were all in their mid to late twenties, so nobody should have had their parents contacting me.
Yet, they did.
Each summer, I had a few students whose mothers booked their initial evaluation for joining my class. Often, the booking was preceded by a phone call where the mother proceeded to sell me the case for working with her child. The mothers would tell me how they found me, and why they want their children to take my courses. Usually, the types of children whose parents call for them weren’t in my regular student network, but I was happy to work with anyone appropriate. Usually, this conversation went well.
Then, I would tell the mothers, ‘I appreciate you calling, but your child needs to handle the communication going forward.’
I didn’t think it was too much to ask. After all, these ‘children,’ were in their twenties. By these parents calling me, it told me a lot about how the student grew up.
This past autumn, I had a student apply to my program who allegedly had, ‘distant royal lineage.’ He thought he would be an excellent candidate wherever he applied. Unfortunately, his undergraduate grade point average, test scores, and work experience were grim. Not to mention, he wasn’t the most mature student.
In his course evaluation, he complained, ‘My math skills are a little rusty. It has to explain why I did so poorly on the evaluation.’
He had been given passing grades based on his surname up until he encountered me. I believed it was fixable with the right attitude, but he didn’t have that, either.
The issue with this student spiked when I told him, ‘Your current academic skills require a bit of work. It might take several months to bring you back up to speed. You may miss round two of the class, and you should plan to execute a different set of internship experiences.’
After I explained this to the student, he shared his report assessment with his father. His father didn’t appreciate the fact his son would miss the second half of the course. He called me and proceeded to blow up over the phone.
I reminded the father, ‘All assessments your son has completed are private, independent, and are my professional opinion. While I try to be optimistic for the student, it doesn’t serve anyone to be unrealistic about their progress.’
I also reminded him that his son was not obliged to work with me, which is why the evaluation was paid. It was independent, and there was no obligation to take it. I even suggested the son find a different instructor so he can get the help he truly needed.
The father questioned, ‘Are you implying my son isn’t good enough for you?’
I responded, ‘No, I’m saying I cannot be the instructor for the son you would like me to be.’
‘How dare you deny my son his rightful path!’ the father screamed.
I didn’t reply.
He kept yelling, ‘Did you even hear me? How dare you!’
I sighed and replied, ‘Sir, I did hear you. There is nothing I can say to push our conversation forward. You will be happier with an instructor who will make your son false promises. I politely decline to work with your son going forward.’
At this point, about an hour had passed and a student was standing at my office door for an appointment.
Despite my deference and many earlier warnings to hang up the phone, I finally told the father, ‘Sir, you have now pushed almost twelve minutes into my next student’s appointment. This is unacceptable. Have a good day.’
I received several angry e-mails from this father after our phone call. I kept a special file with them, as it’s helpful to remember his name so I know not to work with him again.
While post-graduation programs can indeed be places where your privilege and rank get you a leg up, you had to have at least one to stand on.
Bad behavior runs amuck.”
The Lying Little Girl
“When I taught fourth grade, I had recess duty every day. One afternoon, a couple of students informed me a girl was crying. I looked over and there was another girl, ‘Tracy,’ standing over her and mocking her.
I began walking over to the crying student, and the girl standing over her walked away. Sure enough, the student was an emotional wreck.
I sat down next to her and asked, ‘What happened?’
She replied, ‘She accused me of having a crush on a boy, but I don’t. So she started yelling at me.’
I felt so bad for the girl. It was a silly issue for her to be having, but she thought it was a big deal.
I took her hand and said, ‘I will go talk to the other student. Go get a drink and calm down for a moment.’
I called Tracy over to me, and she immediately became defensive.
Tracy raised her voice and said, ‘I didn’t do anything!’
I knew she was lying, so I replied, ‘Whether you hurt the other student’s feelings intentionally or not, you need to apologize and make up with her.’
She simply kept repeating a lie about how she didn’t do anything, and she refused to apologize to the other student.
I finally told her, ‘I believe you may not have meant to upset her and it was an accident. But, it is a fact she is crying because of how you treated her.’
Tracy looked at me with pure hatred and exclaimed, ‘I am about to go get my mom to deal with this.’
I just shook my head and said, ‘Fine.’
My response wasn’t enough, so the student prodded, ‘Do you even know who my mom is?’
I replied, ‘Do you know who I am?’
Tracy trudged away into the school building, and I told the other teacher on recess duty what had just happened. She was floored!
The other teacher went into the building, and she found the student talking to her mother.
The teacher told Tracy, ‘Please go back outside to recess.’
The mother interrupted, ‘No, I will be speaking with her teacher about this. Now.’
After recess, the assistant principal came into my classroom. She informed me not to talk to Tracy’s mother unless she was present, as she was a substitute teacher at our school.
The assistant principal turned to me and said, ‘I will do everything in my power to ensure she won’t be teaching here anymore.’
At the end of the school day, the mother approached me during my after-school duty.
I told the mother, ‘I will discuss your daughter’s behavior with you, but only with the assistant principal present.’
A few minutes later, the mother, Tracy, and I were all sitting in the assistant principal’s office.
The assistant principal asked Tracy, ‘So, what happened at recess today?’
Tracy snidely replied, ‘The teacher told me I had to apologize to some girl, but I didn’t even do anything. I went inside instead.’
The assistant principal responded, ‘What I’m hearing is you didn’t tell the teacher you were getting your mother to deal with the issue? You need to be honest, here.’
Tracy knew she was caught in a lie, and she simply shook her head.
The assistant principal continued, ‘Tracy, you must tell us exactly what happened outside. You know it is not acceptable to be disrespectful to a teacher.’
It was silent for about thirty seconds. Finally, Tracy dropped her gaze and nodded.
I thought to myself, ‘Okay, now her mother will apologize was this circus.’
Tracy’s mother turned to me and said, ‘I’m the type of person who wants to talk directly to someone. When you wouldn’t talk to me without the assistant principal here, it made me upset.’
I said nothing and just looked at her with my mouth slightly agape.
The assistant principal chimed in and said, ‘She did exactly what I wanted her to do.’
Tracy’s mother shrugged and replied, ‘I don’t care. I am always going to believe what my daughter says, anyway.’
My mouth was no longer agape. I was completely shocked! I wasn’t dealing with a rational person.
I nodded sarcastically while thinking, ‘You mean the child who just lied right in front of you several times?’
The assistant principal reminded the mother, ‘Your children are at this school on transfer. It should go without saying, but this won’t be happening again,’ stood up, and left.
I am so thankful I had the support of my assistant principal in this situation.”
“College Is Easier Than The Garbage You Make My Daughter Do”
“After twenty years as a teacher, I have heard a lot of crazy utterances come from parents’ mouths.
One time, I had a parent who was taking her daughter on vacation. At this point, the student had been absent for two weeks due to a cold. Even though the daughter was allegedly sick, her parents wanted to take her to Disneyland. Immediately after their vacation, Thanksgiving break would occur. Once they would arrive back, the student would only have three weeks before winter break.
My point is, that the student would be missing a lot of time in the classroom.
Her grade was already down to thirty percent, and she wasn’t doing any of her homework before she had taken time off. The student had also been ‘sick,’ for several other days, and usually only appeared three or four days a week.
The mother eventually came in to speak to me. She was very upset I had let her daughter’s grade drop so low.
The student’s mother looked at me and screamed, ‘I have every right to take my daughter on vacation anytime I please! As long as my daughter is passing the class, it shouldn’t matter how many days she misses.’
I sighed and informed her, ‘Ma’am, I just don’t think it is a great idea to pull your daughter from school at this time.’
The mother wasn’t having it.
She ignored me and pushed on, ‘It isn’t enough to only see my daughter’s grades online, and I demand having a progress report sent home more often! Not only this, but you should have given my daughter a packet of the homework she missed. If she was failing, you should have called me. College is way easier than the garbage you make my daughter do, anyway.’
I tried to talk the mother through her points one by one. I pointed out that the school had attempted to contact her several times. I pointed out her daughter was indeed not passing the class, so she had been absent too often. I also informed the mother her contact information in the school’s database wasn’t current. Report cards had reached the mother, but not our phone calls.
I then offered the mother printed copies of her daughter’s social media posts she made on the days of her last absences. The mother was extremely upset I had invaded her daughter’s privacy, and I simply referred her to the administrator if she needed more assistance or information.
Administration told me to prepare a packet of work for the student. I agreed and proceeded to write up a set of directions to cover all of the work necessary.
I wrote, ‘Go to the class website. See all of the assignments marked as zero? Do them.’
The student didn’t do any of the work.
When the mother found out I was teaching the same summer school class, she withdrew her daughter and sent her to continuation high school.
Alas, the joys of teaching.”
Cumbersome Crosswalk Mother
“Last year, I was assigned crosswalk duty at the end-of-day student pickup center. Student pickup was understaffed and under-supervised, and the teachers working never actually enforced any safety or behavior routines. The children would run around and take their sweet time finding their parent’s vehicles.
One day, I noticed two boys tossing a football back and forth on the sidewalk in the pickup area. They were bumping and knocking into smaller children, and they were generally behaving like rascals. No surprise here, the other supervising teacher wasn’t doing anything about it.
Suddenly, one boy missed a catch and the ball rolled into oncoming traffic. The boy sprinted into the road to retrieve the ball, and he narrowly dodged becoming a hood ornament. Finally, the supervising teacher woke up and yelled at the child. The boy shrugged and began walking away.
I looked at the boy and yelled, ‘Hey! Come over here!’
He ignored me, too, and kept walking up the line of traffic. After a few minutes, he entered a waiting car.
His mother exited the car, hence holding up traffic.
The mother walked up to me and scolded, ‘You are taking away my child’s safe space!’
I was at a loss for words. The mother saw her child almost get hit by a car, but this was his ‘safe space.’
It seemed the mother was well practiced in confronting teachers in defense of her child’s entitlement to behave poorly. The next day, she complained about me to the office.
I was removed from student pick-up duty and placed somewhere else.
The other teachers who continue to work student pickup duty have noted the misbehavior has continued and even increased!
I constantly live in fear about a child being dinged by a car, or even worse. But boy, will I have a lot to say to the insurance adjusters!”
“The Mother Had No Choice But To Believe The Stories About Her Daughter”
“I was previously a kindergarten teacher. I once had a student who was harming other students and teachers in the middle of class. She would bite, hit, punch, and pull hair. Her mother thought we were fabricating the seriousness of her child’s behavior and thought we had something against only her daughter.
The mother told me, ‘My daughter is an angel and would never be so mean. She feels unsafe in your classroom which is causing her to lash out.’
We had documented various cases where the child had hurt others, including photos and multiple witnesses. One day, I was videotaping my class for a project. I caught the girl on tape lashing out aggressively and completely unprovoked. This time, it wasn’t against another student. She had bit the student teacher in my classroom!
The mother finally had no option but to believe the stories about her daughter. The student was pulled out of class and taken to therapy.
This is one of the more outrageous encounters I have had. Most of the time, they are less dramatic. Typically, students will struggle with poor grades or behavior, and the parents will dismiss the issues. I never understood how a parent will believe a student over their teacher, and even fabricate excuses for their child’s bad behavior.
I have had parents submit work they completed and try to pawn it off as their child’s work. I have had parents cover up for their child’s lies by lying themselves. I have truly seen it all in my years of teaching, and not much gets past me anymore.
Nowadays, I have grown to be more selective in which battles I choose to wage.”
The Swindling Student
“I once had a student who created a fake e-mail address in my name. They would send their parents ridiculous messages all quarter long.
The messages would say things like, ‘Don’t worry about the failed test grade, I decided not to count it,’ or, ‘Everyone is failing the class, so I am going to count all of the homework as extra credit for the remainder of the grading period.’
I finally discovered what the student had been doing when I called home to discuss his failing grades.
His mother said, ‘Oh, his grades are bad because you didn’t drop the last test grade. You didn’t add the extra credit yet, either.’
I explained to her, ‘This e-mail account you are receiving these messages from isn’t from me. Even if it was, I wouldn’t message students’ parents from my personal account.’
The mother insisted, ‘No, you sent these messages.’
I caved and told the mother, ‘Send me the messages. I will pass them on to our principal.’
The school investigated the messages, and it turned out the student had written a couple of the messages from our school’s network. Her son was suspended for impersonating a teacher once the school found out.
Even when faced with the proof, the mother continued denying her son had created the e-mail account. She even continued to ask when I would drop her son’s low test score!
Fortunately, his father believed in the true version of events. To this day, the mother will never admit it.”
“He Refused To Ever Teach A Class Again”
“My husband previously worked as a substitute teacher while he was in graduate school. The day this event happened, he immediately resigned.
At the time, he was teaching a sixth-grade class. In the class, there was a young man who had been held back twice, so he was two years old than the other children.
My husband described him as, ‘physically more mature,’ than the other students.
One day, this student decided he was going to cause some trouble, and he began verbally accosting one of his classmates. My husband walked down the row of desks to attempt to break up the impending fight. My husband wasn’t a tall man, and the student was at least three inches taller than him. Despite the student’s physical advantages, my husband still tried to reason with him.
My husband ordered, ‘Boys! Please back up away from each other!’
The student wasn’t having it, and he picked up his chair and threatened to hit my husband with it.
He looked the student in the eye and firmly said, ‘Put the chair down and sit. Now.’
Apparently, the student wasn’t accustomed to being stood up to, so he did as he was told. My husband called the office to get the principal involved, and the student was sent to the office. It seemed it was the end of the situation, and nobody would be getting hurt.
Less than an hour later, my husband was called to the office. As he was walking down the hall, he could hear swear words flying in the principal’s office. It was the student’s mother and father, and they were livid!
The parents cried, ‘Our son would never do this! How could a teacher be so mean to our son?’
Despite the fact the student had threatened to assault his classmate and teacher, my husband was berated by the school for speaking to the student in the manner he did. The student was sent home for the day over the rude protests of his parents, and my husband was told he couldn’t substitute teach at the school again. To add insult to injury, my husband was warned by the principal that if he disagreed with the unofficial band, the principal would place a formal reprimand on his record.
After the incident, my husband came home, called the human resources office, and took his name off the substitute teaching list. He refused to ever teach a class again.”
Report Card Regret
“These incidents have happened to me multiple times per year, and they always occur three weeks before report cards are released. A parent will check their child’s grades online, see over fifteen missing assignments, print the assignment list, give the child the list, and send them to me. Presumably, the parents believe I will give their children the assignments so they can still do them for extra credit.
Absolutely not! I refuse to find missing worksheets for children who don’t turn their assignments in on time in the first place. At this point, I would refuse to grade the assignments even if they were submitted.
Most parents understand, but now and then, a parent will believe their child’s failure is the teacher’s fault. I give children multiple chances to turn in assignments, but I will not accept assignments turned in at the very last minute to save face.
One time, a parent reached out to me and said, ‘‘But my son was absent this day.’
I replied, ‘He knows where to find assignments when he is absent. Besides, his absence only explains one missing assignment, not fifteen. Your son doesn’t pay attention in class, which is why he is missing so much work.’
A different parent e-mailed me and explained, ‘My daughter told me you never said these assignments were due.’
I responded, ‘The other twenty-three kids in the class heard me say the assignments were due. She is the only person missing so many assignments. Let this be a lesson for her to pay more attention in class next semester.’
There will always be some parents who refuse to accept their children are anything less than perfect. I will be the first teacher to tell them the truth every single time.”
Test Taking Troubles
“When I was a teacher, I had a ‘no talking policy,’ while students were taking tests. The first time it would occur, I would dock ten points from their grade. The second time it would happen, I would give the student a zero on their test.
I had a student who brazenly began talking to his friend during an exam, so I took ten points off of his grade. After school, I called his mother and let her know what happened. We had a conversation, and she seemed to understand what her child had done wrong.
The next morning, I received an e-mail from the parent. It was written so poorly and sounded so juvenile, that I initially thought her son had written it.
The e-mail read, ‘You are a bully! You ruined my son’s holiday weekend by docking his grade!’
I called the mother about the e-mail and explained how I thought her son had written it.
She responded, ‘Nope! Those are my words. I think you’re an awful teacher!’
I quickly dropped the phone call and forwarded the e-mail to the guidance counselor. I couldn’t even believe the insane woman I was dealing with.”
“The Parents Resented Me”
“As a teacher, students’ parents always told me the same things.
They would say, ‘But my child doesn’t behave badly at home!’
To which I responded, ‘Do you have twenty-five other kids the same age as your child at home?’
Obviously, they told me no.
I have tried to explain to parents comparing a busy classroom to their home environment doesn’t make any sense. They are two completely different environments, and there is no comparison.
One time, I had a student bite another student. I and another teacher watched as it happened. I told the parents, and they claimed I made up the store. Going forward, they resented me for ‘lying’ about their child.
Most parents didn’t like hearing the truth, and they would simply brush off their child’s behavior. I watched it happen several times.”