Are American Kids Brats? Ask Their Teachers

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | According to Time, the Tiger-mom controversy of yesteryear will likely morph into the Franco-mom controversy of 2012. Pamela Druckerman has written a book titled Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, which is sure to infuriate American parents. French people are alleged to be more pleasant to be around because they are more properly socialized as children to understand that they are not the only ones with wants and needs.

That explanation struck a chord. As a high school teacher, I am amazed at how needy some teenagers are. And, even more amazingly, most of these pupils has not a hint of shame when keening for help over every conceivable triviality. Additionally, while French parents supposedly place great emphasis on teaching their children to respect others, I am often surprised at how disrespectful many of my students can be toward myself and other teachers.

Parents, due to their intimate proximity to the sensitive situation of offspring behavior, are likely to be considerably biased. They will understandably hesitate to harshly critique the behavior of their own, and the behavior of their friends' children. A teacher, if given the opportunity to vent, can reveal multitudes about how children and teens act in the absence of parental oversight.

One chord that resonated while reading Judith Warner's article about the Druckerman book involved my high school sophomores and their ever-present need to go to the restroom. Regardless of the in-class activity, they place their need to go to the bathroom over anything else, even if I am conversing with another student. If told to wait, they grouse and huff. Students are outraged if, in the middle of handling a dozen things, I forget which student was supposed to go to the bathroom next.

Similarly, students who are absent always expect me to bend over backward to get them whatever materials they missed despite knowing they must come to tutorials to get such materials. When I remind them of this, it is like I am telling them to gnaw off a limb with their teeth. "But I'll miss lunch," they whine. What they really mean is they'll miss time socializing. They try (poorly) to give a plethora of reasons why they cannot come to tutorials at lunch, before school, or during my conference period.

Yeah, I think our American kids need more of whatever the French are supposedly doling out when child-rearing.

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