When parents pick their kids up from a childcare centre in Sydney’s west, Nicholas says they rarely tell their kids it’s time to go home.
Instead, they suggest it. Or pose a question with an air of hesitation. “Should we go home now?” they ask their three-year-old.
He watches day after day, as parents attempt to round up a kid or two, with a tone that implies they have a choice in the matter.
“Kids appear to be using emotional outbursts as leverage,” he tells Mamamia. “And the parents are terrified of their tears, so tiptoe around them in an act of surrender.”
Things teachers never, ever say. Post continues below.
Then there’s the students in Ashleigh’s maths class.
Just this week, a young girl forgot her homework.
By recess, her mother was at the school gate, the exercise book under her arm.
“I felt bad for the mum,” Ashleigh told Mamamia. “Her time is worth more than a detention. And I felt bad for the kid.
“She won’t learn to take responsibility if Mum always fixes it.”
In fact, parents dropping off their child’s forgotten items became so out of hand at Wenona School, a private high school in North Sydney, that principal Briony Scott made the decision to stop delivering them to students. Instead, they stayed in reception all day.
Anne deals with parents who defend their child before they even know what they’ve been accused of. Swearing. Punching another kid in the playground. Spitting in the direction of a teacher. “That’s not my son,” they say, looking the teacher directly in the eye, while their child sits in guilty silence.
Though it’s not universal, this kind of parenting is perceivable among just about anyone who works with kids.
And, in a way, it’s a form of parental paralysis.
“I call it a Vitamin N deficiency,” family psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg told Mamamia. “Parents have forgotten how to say ‘no’ and are excessively hesitant to set limits or boundaries.”
Carr-Gregg has recognised “an overwhelming imperative to be their best friend and that of course is ridiculous”. As a parent, it is the job of a good parent to be the “frontal cortex of your child” while their brain develops, he says.
Listen to Mamamia’s parenting podcast, This Glorious Mess. Post continues below.
The question becomes, why are some parents so fixated on being liked? And why are they hesitant to enforce consistent rules?