Why I Took the Teacher's Side Over My Own Kid

boy in school at deskThere was an incident at school. I won't go into details due to privacy concerns but, rest assured, parents were called, meetings were had, penalties were leveled. It was big! My son has one version of events. His teacher has another. Whom should I believe? I think I know the answer to that ... but I still sided with the teacher over my own child.


It wasn't, by any means, an easy decision.

On the one hand, I want my children to know that I’ve got their backs -- that I trust them and that I am on their side. But I’ve got three kids ranging in age from 8 to 15, and I used to be a kid myself. I know that kids lie. They do it for a variety of reasons: because they truly wish things had happened the way they say, because they’re self-centered and can’t see beyond their own point of view, because they don’t want to get in trouble.

But they do lie.

On the other hand, my husband is a teacher, and not only do I know that kids lie (many years ago, not at the school where he is now, a student threatened to claim he’d touched him inappropriately if my husband didn’t raise his grade), I know that teachers are human beings like everyone else, and some of them lie, too. I had one teacher in high school who told my parents I’d done something I absolutely, positively did not do. (I did several of the other things I was being accused of, but not that!) Maybe she’d made an honest mistake. Or maybe, like a kid, she didn’t want to get into trouble, either.

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I presented the teacher’s version of events to my son, hoping it might prompt him to either amend his tale or at least consider where they might both be interpreting the same series of events differently. Nope, he stuck to his guns. This is what happened, I’m the one telling the truth, they just either didn’t see what led up to the incident (possible) or are choosing to ignore it (also possible).

I presented my son’s version of events to his teachers. They agreed that, perhaps, they didn’t see what he claims led to the altercation. But they can’t comment on something they didn’t see. As for my son’s assertion that they were willfully ignoring the alleged bullying that preceded his response, they insisted that wasn’t the case.

So I went back to my son who agreed that, perhaps, he didn’t see the measures that had been taken with the other boy. But he also can’t comment on something he didn’t see, and ergo, he still believes he was completely in the right.

His teachers, on the other hand, do not think he was in the right and want him to apologize.

And there I was, stuck in the middle.

I went back and forth over what to do. Do I make my son apologize and give him the impression that I don’t trust him at his word? 

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Or do I defend him to the teachers and piss off authority figures whom we’ll have to deal with for several more years? (Plus, did I mention that this was a private school? And that we’re on financial aid? I am very, very loathe to rock the boat for any reason, but most especially over one so ambiguous.) Will my kow-towing suggest to my son that money is more important than integrity? But, then again, what if my son truly is the one in the wrong -- and he knows it? Will this make him think he can pull the wool over my eyes in the future with impunity?

In the end, I chose the coward’s path and split the difference. I told my son that I believed he’d done what he’d done for the reasons he said. But that he would still need to do as the school asked and admit that he was in the wrong, followed by a written apology.

A. Because merely not meaning to hurt someone doesn’t mean that he actually didn’t.

B. Because sometimes in life, we have to go along to get along, that’s just how it is. The next few years of his academic career would be much easier for him if he did as directed.

What I didn’t tell my son -- and what I am not particularly proud of -- is that they would be much easier for me, as well.

I was not looking forward to a long, protracted battle between me and the administration when the alternative, just having my son do what they said, would nip the conflict in the bud right then and there. They’d let bygones by bygones, and we’d all move on with our lives.

I told my son that my decision was what was best for him. But, maybe, in reality, it was only best for me?

Whom do you side with when it's the teacher vs. your kid?


Image via Alina Adams

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