Perfect Example of a Missed Opportunity

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In a less than courageous move, the South Plainfield NJ Board of Education reversed a decision by school administrators to ban from the graduation ceremony a group of students who came drunk to the prom. Students signed a pledge to arrive at their prom alcohol-free but at least some came “visibly inebriated,” a spokesperson said.

The students’ parents protested the ruling and threatened to take the issue to the state commissioner of education. The board then reversed the decision.

I don’t blame the Board of Education for not having a backbone, though it is obvious. I blame the parents for not having the wisdom teach their children a life lesson so valuable it could actually save their lives.

The question a parent should always ask is, “what is the worst that could happen?” For parents of the students that had the nerve to come to the prom drunk might actually cause them to learn about consequences.

Let’s focus instead on the majority of the students in South Plainfield High who deserve to enjoy this wonderful milestone despite this minority of the student population creating such a distraction.

Kudos to the teachers who are fed up with a system that caves to loud parents who don’t seem to know any better.

This could be urban legend, but the following is supposedly the answering machine message the Pacific Palisades High School (CA) staff voted to record on their school answering machine system. This came about because the school implemented a policy requiring parents to be responsible for their children’s absences and missing homework. The school and teachers are being sued by parents who want their children’s failing grades changed to passing grades even though those children were absent 15 to 30 times during the semester and did not complete enough school work to pass their classes.

“Hello! You have reached the automated answering service of your school. In order to assist you in connecting to the right staff member, please listen to all your options before making a selection:
To lie about why your child is absent, press 1
□ To make excuses for why your child did not do his work, press 2
□ To complain about what we do, press 3
□ To swear at staff members, press 4
□ To ask why you didn’t get information that was already enclosed in your newsletter and several flyers mailed to you, press 5
□ If you want us to raise your child, press 6
□ If you want to reach out and touch, slap, or hit someone, press 7
□ To request another teacher for the third time this year, press 8
□ To complain about bus transportation, press 9
□ To complain about school lunches, press 0
□ If you realize this is the real world and your child must be accountable and responsible for his/her own behavior, class work, and homework, and that it’s not the teachers’ fault for your child’s lack of effort…hang up and have a nice day!”

We have a bill of rights. We need a bill of responsibilities. -Bill Maher

Exerpted from Because Kids Don’t Come with Manuals®:Contemporary Advice for Parents by Tina Nocera

What do you think about this issue?

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9 Comments »

  1. Lucy Collini said

    The underlying problem is that parents drink alcohol and have a difficult time telling their children not to drink since they feel that at 17 or 18 they themselves drank alcohol. They feel that it is the right of passage and not a big deal. Unfortunately, it is a big deal, alcoholism is a major disease and many consequences come from alcoholic drinking.
    We have a national crisis concerning drinking alcohol. We say one drink is ok, how many really do that?
    The lesson of not going to their graduation would have been profound and since they broke the legal contract when they signed no alcohol at the prom, it should absolutely be enforced.

  2. Kudos on this article. Right on target. I love the answering machine list!

    Are you aware that July is National Child-Centered Divorce Month? Divorce professionals throughout North America are joining forces to provide free gifts, free teleseminars, articles, seminars and more on topics related to divorce and parenting.

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  3. Phyllis Piccirillo said

    I think the whole situation is actually very sad. I totally agree with the teachers about not going to the ceremony but I just can’t believe there are still parents out there who try to justify their childs poor behavior. I raised both my daughters with some very simple, basic lessons about consequences. I simply refused to reward bad or iresponsible behavior. It was a lesson they learned very early in life. My Mom was the person who said to me in reference to raising my children “It will take less patience to teach them from the beginning, because you will not have the patience or strength to undo what you failed to instill in them at an early age”. I believe to this day in those words. Parents today don’t have the strength or patience to instill in their children the simple ABC’s in life. Shame on South Plainfield, Shame on those who actually broke the rules, but mostl importantly shame on the parents!

    • What a great comment by your mom! That will definitely have a place in my next book. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

  4. Gayla Cirone said

    Thank you Tina,
    That was one of the best thing I read or heard today. What a great way to inspire (put it straight to) parents to take responsibilities, and stop creating Spoiled, Irresponsible Victims.
    Gayla Cirone

  5. Tina –
    Awesome post! I am putting a link to your blog in the July 7th issue of Parenting News You Can Use, the weekly e-zine from the International Network for Children and Families. Over-entitled children who do not experience consequences become over-entitled adults who do not know the joy of contributing. Parents who do not hold their children accountable create adults who do not hold themselves accountable.

    The Parenting News e-zine is a free publication, and if anyone would like to subscribe, please visit http://www.WholeHeartedParenting.com.

    All the Best –
    Maggie

  6. macromedia said

    Nice!

  7. Melissa said

    I completely agree that parents need to let their kids face the consequences of their actions. The lessons is better learned here than through the other potential consequences of drinkng (underage and/or while driving).

    One thing here that I think is at odds with that idea of facing consequences is the school that wants to hold parents accountable for absences and homework. Absences I can see. But does holding parents accountable for homework remove that accountability from the kids? I know moms who will stay up late to finish homework with their kids – work the kids had time to do on their own – rather than 1) get the kid to bed on time and 2) let the KID face the consquences of, say, not studying for that spelling test. These moms tend to think that it reflects poorly on THEM if their kids don’t do all their work and perform well on all their assessments. What if you’re the parent who *doesn’t* coddle your kid (as we’re suggesting the prom parents shouldn’t have) and expect him or her to be accountable for their work and performance?

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