Are teachers afraid of Mean Girl Moms?

A mom recently told me about a scenario at an elementary school where some Mean Girls bullied her daughter. The girls are supposedly the daughter’s friends and the moms are supposedly the mom’s friends. She wrote to the teacher for help but she is afraid the teacher won’t help because she thinks the teacher is afraid of those moms. She knows that the moms had dressed down the teacher about some other incident that happened earlier in the year.

I told her she should give the teacher a chance to respond but then if she doesn’t go to the principal. She is concerned the principal won’t care because the principal is an interim principal who is leaving at the end of the year.

It’s interesting though that it seems like the little girls are emulating their moms – being pushy and bossy.

What do you think? Have you had a case in your class where the teacher was afraid of dealing with certain parents? Do you see the patterns of Mean Moms then Mean Girls? What steps should this mom take? Should she go to the parents and leave the school out of it?

36 comments Add your comment

Mirva

May 16th, 2013
4:41 am

With only days left in the school year and an interim principal, it is unlikely your friend will get much more than lip service. The teacher is likely beyond exausted and it sounds like these moms have been a handful all year. Unless a school has a strong principal who will stand up to bully parents, the teacher’s hands are prretty much tied. The message is usually loud and clear “make everyone happy all the time and don’t do anything that will cause the parents to come to me to complain for any reason..”

fjeremey

May 16th, 2013
4:42 am

It is likely that the teacher is just resigned to the probability that some administrators won’t back a teacher’s play and will bow to even the most abusive parent. Sure, the teacher could (and should) intervene, but is the teacher willing to risk a “conversation” about negatively impacting the self esteem of the “mean girls”? let alone the lawyers that may be called in? And, yes, parents have lawyered up over less. So the victims suffer endlessly because the meanness is not nipped in the bud because, for some reason that has never been explained to me, the system will not say no to a parent that says “Not my little Janie” and looks like they might have some influence. Skip the school and go straight to the county. Maybe if that happens enough times the building level administrators who are derelict will start stepping up. Until then, your student can come to my room if they need a safe place.

SEE

May 16th, 2013
4:54 am

Enter your comments here

SEE

May 16th, 2013
4:59 am

I find it interesting that the girls and moms were all friends before this happened. So, what was that mom doing while these other moms were “dressing down” the teacher all year? Seriously, if I saw that kind of behavior from a parent, I’d have steered my child away from those kids (not to mention myself away from those parents). I hate to say it, but she kinda made her bed with her and her daughter being friends with those girls and parents. For the outsider, it looks more like a spat between friends than actual bullying.

DB

May 16th, 2013
7:33 am

I think the MOM is afraid of the other moms, and is projecting on the teacher. I also think the mom needs to woman up, put her big girl panties on, and approach the moms directly. Why run to the teacher or the principal to solve her problems for her? Supposedly these women are friends? Why not just go to them and say, “We have a problem”?

This passive-aggressive crap of getting the teacher to do her dirty work for her is a bit cowardly. Itwould be a much better role model for her daughter if she CALMLY approached the other parents in a non-accusatory way, explained the problem, and asked for THEIR help. What does she expect the teacher and the principal to do, exactly?

If they won’t help, and the bullying is of a particularly hurtful, vicious variety, then perhaps the child needs to start developing new friendships, and over the summer, the parent could meet with school officials about the child being assigned to a class different from the other girls (although, really, it’s hard to avoid kids because of the way classes interact.) This might have been just a one-time “feelings hurt” episode that will blow over by next week, so monitor the situation and see how it goes.

LeeH1

May 16th, 2013
7:36 am

Uh, actually, the teacher is there to teach reading, writing and arithmetic. Why is this the problem of the teacher and the principal, and their responsibility to solve? The mother needs to address the bullies and the other mothers herself.

Dumping this responsibility on the school system, and then complaining when they don’t respond accoding to the wishes of one parent, is not good scholarship. Or parenting.

Teacher

May 16th, 2013
7:36 am

Parents bullying teachers…no surprise here. No place for hate right? We teach the kids this, but parents should take note too. Parents bullying teachers should be addressed as much as kids doing it to each other. This is harassment and would not be acceptable in the workplace, but yet our parents don’t grasp that.

Its the end of the year and as teachers we love and hate it because 1. its the end. and 2. parents are bullying teachers for extra chances, questioning grades, and undermining the professional authority of teachers by emailing area superintendents and BOE members.

There is a simple solution to your parent who cant get through to the teacher. Go up to the school and talk to them. If that doesn’t work, then go higher. Thats my .02

FCM

May 16th, 2013
7:37 am

If the Mom of the bullied is friends with the Moms of the Mean Girls why is she getting the teacher involved? Probably because she is afraid of the Mean Girl Moms herself.

If they are truly all friends then they should be able to sit down (over FroYo or something) and TALK IT OUT. Just think of the great life skill you would be teaching your daughters!!!

Alberta

May 16th, 2013
7:45 am

If it is in fact bullying, I think it’s important that this mother report this behavior to both her daughter’s teacher and principal, regardless of how much time is left in the school year. She needs to get on record now in the event this behavior continues next year. That way, if something bad happens to her child, she has her little paper trail when the finger-pointing starts.

motherjanegoose

May 16th, 2013
7:46 am

Teachers are swimming with alligators over so many things. Pretty sure this is NOT on their high priority list.

I am in Chicago for a meeting and we had a wonderful time. The area I am working in is a poorer area. A teacher told me yesterday, “I passed out plastic ducks to my class and handed a blue one to a boy who THREW it back at me. I just stood there. The parents were in the room and a parent nearby was amazed that the child would do that! The child’s mom looked at her and mentioned that he did not like blue.She did not correct her child” REALLY? Yes, these girls are picking up vibes from their Moms just as this little boy is doing. The Moms probably do not see a problem with the behavior.

Most Kinder teachers I meet are at their wits ( sp?) end over the removal of anything creative for young children: http://www.citizensforpublicschools.org/editions-of-the-backpack/may-2011-backpack/rally-against-arne-duncan%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98reforms%E2%80%99-for-public-schools-on-may-26/

I am sad that many teachers have their hands tied, fear for their jobs and have lost the joy of teaching. Not sure if anyone is strong enough to fight back or even has the stamina to do it. I see it in early childhood and a neighbor sees it in HS.

HB

May 16th, 2013
7:53 am

Yeah, what DB said. Why not talk to the moms first? I’d be really upset if a friend of mine went to the “authorities” instead of first speaking to me directly. Why has she decided the teacher won’t help without giving her a chance to? When she says they bullied her daughter was it one time or ongoing? If the latter, does anything further really need to be done? If it was one time, I’d be willing to bet her daughter has bullied too. I think these little groups gang up on one girl now and then, and she probably took part when it was another girl’s day on the outs.

FCM

May 16th, 2013
7:56 am

@ Teacher

Earlier this year I requested a conference with all my child’s MS teachers. I asked the Asst Principal to attend b/c he had helped me the previous year with my child.

We walked in all the teachers at the table got all antsy. I looked at them and said “Coach is here to scare Susie not y’all. I am not going to sit here and tell you my child is a perfect angel.” You could see them relax when I said it.

I often copy Coach on the email if I just think it is something he needs a heads up on about Susie. I can only think of 3 times (out of 12 combined years of teachers for 2 kids) that I felt the need to go to the “boss” about a teacher…and all 3 were well documented as to what I had issue, not a simple “She is not nice to my Susies or Jane”

FCM

May 16th, 2013
7:59 am

@ DB..yep right there with ya.

buckheadgirl

May 16th, 2013
8:19 am

Being friends with your children’s friend’s parents can easily lead to conflicts; being friendly with them seldom does. And I agree with the others. The Mom should speak to these mothers herself (or one of them) to discuss this issue if she feels it is serious. The teacher has enough on her plate. Unless this is happening during school, it is the parent’s job to handle this.

Warrior Woman

May 16th, 2013
8:42 am

@LeeH1 and buckheadgirl – It it the teacher’s responsibility because, according to TWG, the bullying is happening AT SCHOOL. The teacher and school administrators are responsible for controlling behavior in the schools.

Denise

May 16th, 2013
8:52 am

I agree that the mom should talk to the other moms but I can see why she is hesitant. Oftentimes people are afraid of conflict with their peers or people they consider friends. But I think going to the “authorities”, as someone else put it, rather than the friends would cause more hurt feelings and even possible mean reactions than approaching them directly at first. Also, one of my best friends is an assistant principal and people come to her for the silliest things, stuff that they could just handle themselves, or stuff that just won’t happen, like “make the teacher let Timmy retake the test because it’s her fault he got an F.” And when she was in the classroom was 10 times worse. I would feel too sorry for a teacher to bring something to him or her if it is not something I tried to handle on my own but had no success. (If I ran to my boss with something I didn’t try to solve first, what do you think he’d think of me? Same idea.)

While this is going on I would question if my daughter is behaving like the so-called Mean Girls when she is not the victim of the behavior. If her mother is not proactive enough to talk to the moms without being told to, I doubt she is teaching the daughter – or at least not showing by example even if she is telling her – how to stand up for what is right, how to say she will not do something she knows is wrong just to be a part of the group. If it is hard for a mom to address her Mean Mom friends I am sure it will be just as hard for the daughter to stand up to her Mean Girl friends. That needs to be a part of this lesson. Don’t just address it when it’s happening to YOU; address it when they are doing it to someone else or find some new friends.

jarvis

May 16th, 2013
9:02 am

Female dynamics.

I feel like women have a much tougher time having many close friends for a long period of time. The catiness and alpha dog crap starts at such an early age.

I already see it with my daughter (8). My son has many friends that all hang and play well together. The more the merrier (lots of property destroyed though). My daughter has many friends too, but if too many of them are in one place at one time, it seems someone always gets there feelings hurt.

I’d like to see some psychology around the group interactions of boys/men vs. girls/women.

Cei

May 16th, 2013
9:02 am

I would have a conference with the bullies, the parents, teachers and principal.

FCM

May 16th, 2013
9:09 am

@ jarvis..astute observation.

jarvis

May 16th, 2013
9:14 am

their not there

jarvis

May 16th, 2013
9:15 am

@Cei, Why would the bullies go to a conference with two weeks left in school about their daughters being mean to another kid? What is their motivation?

motherjanegoose

May 16th, 2013
9:19 am

@Denise…great advice. Our kid’s 3rd grade teacher (both of them had her) came to our son’s hooding ceremony last week. We have remained friends, although not close, and I invited her to join us. She was thrilled to come. She just retired from teaching and was excited to see the outcome of our son, who was her student. She commented to me, _______ ( daughter) is such a lovely and confident young woman. While she probably does not get the lovely part from me, I will admit that I have encouraged her to be confident and handle situations. She is still learning and experiencing things for herself. This Mom should handle this herself and thus show her daughter what to do, especially when she knows the other mothers.

I also agree about the silliest things becoming the school’s problems.

@buckheadgirl….YES, I agree that becoming friends with the parents of your child could be a problem in Buckhead. When I I worked there, it was a real eye opener for someone who knew nothing about Buckhead moms: ME. While those living in Buckhead are typically thrilled with their address, the rest of the country could not locate it on a map. This, I have learned in my travels.

Teacher

May 16th, 2013
9:19 am

@FCM- Thats the responsible thing to do, and thank you for doing that. The reason teachers get “antsy” is because parents tend to think their little snowflake is delicate when we see otherwise at school. I cannot tell you how many times I have caught both kids and parents in lies to cover each others tracks.

@motherjanegoose: someone throws a duck or something like that at me for trying to display the kindness from my heart. I would gladly take up that duck, ask the parent and student to exit the room, and carry on. Kids are little clones of their parents.

motherjanegoose

May 16th, 2013
9:21 am

Should that have been kids’? As in plural possessive?

@ jarvis…interesting….yes I saw it when I taught 2nd grade….it starts early in girls.

motherjanegoose

May 16th, 2013
9:23 am

@ Teacher…want to meet me for lunch…haha…we can swap stories! Amen to both paragraphs.

catlady

May 16th, 2013
10:20 am

I see lots of mean girls, and quite a few of them are apples that did not fall far from the tree.

I think most parents are scared of ME. LOL

jmb

May 16th, 2013
11:47 am

Catlady – that’s the way it should be too. If any teacher is afraid of any parent, they are in the wrong profession IMO.

real life

May 16th, 2013
1:52 pm

DB is right. If these are your friends deal with it. I experienced this problem occasionally when teaching. The best thing learned early in my teaching career is that parents are NOT in charge. Learn diplomacy, but stand up for yourself and require students and parents to take responsibility for themselves. Your friends’ children are bullying your daughter? Call them and deal with it. And make sure that it is actually happening and have a group meeting to deal with the problem. You are the parent. This is YOUR responsibility.

FCM

May 16th, 2013
2:29 pm

@ Teacher, I am sure there are a few teachers who sometimes wonder if I am covering for my kid. Uh, No. I am there to make sure they get an education. I asked earlier this week if something Susie got a zero on (said in comments, not turned in) was the single page document I had seen or something different. I KNOW from the email I got back the poor teacher was thinking…yeah 2 weeks left and your going to bug me about grades.

Actually I wanted to know b/c I had personally handed it to Susie, and told her MAKE SURE THIS GETS IN IT COUNTS AS PART OF THAT PROJECT (project with 3 differnt graded areas..the other parts seem to be in on time). He assured me she was still likely to do well in the class and he would have a final grade next week not to worry. He then said yes it was that one page I had asked. I thanked him, assured him I was not worried or anxious about the grade.

Then I went home showed Susie the email and asked her what was up. Then I reminded her that until the bell rings for the final dismissal, and all the teachers line up to wave good-bye to the busses, she better get that work in and on time.

HB

May 16th, 2013
2:44 pm

I’m confused. Why would parents being friends be a problem in Buckhead as opposed to anywhere else? I get where it could be awkward if the kids had a falling out, but wouldn’t that be true anywhere?

mary

May 16th, 2013
2:57 pm

I’ve been a teacher for nearly 25 years, and I’m not afraid of any parent. Bring it, mean moms.

lisa

May 16th, 2013
3:36 pm

I agree with the writer the child should advise the teacher and hope it will not take involving the principal. Most school should and do have a zero tolerance about bullying. My child and another were exchanging nasties on the social network another student alerted a teacher and both were given consequences up to and including suspension if the bullying continued.

Old Physics Teacher

May 16th, 2013
6:52 pm

I’ve never, repeat, NEVER seen a “problem child” without seeing a “problem parent.” And before I go any further, there are many God-fearing, church-going, community-leading “good people” who are horrible parents, as there are drunk, child-beating, spouse-beating “bad people” who are bad parents. Children act like they’re taught. I can remember one spoiled cheerleader who drank and spent time in motel rooms with various football players. I was discussing how to tell when parents had had enough of children not following their parent’s reasonable instructions. The parent calls the child by their full name slowly and loudly to get the kid’s attention. When I said that in class, I got a LOT of kids nodding their heads. This cheerleader, with a shocked face said, “My parents NEVER do that!” I ignored the comment and continued the lecture. After a few seconds, in a very soft voice she said, “Maybe they should have.”

My parents used to say, “monkey see, monkey do.” It still do , and always has, apply.

And my advice for what it’s worth is to contact the teacher FIRST, and then start up the chain of command. If it ends at the monthly Board of Education meeting in the presence of your attorney, than that’s where it ends. The way you handle a “bully” is to show them you can’t be intimidated and you’re meaner than they are. In 20 years, I’ve been involved in three meetings with “mean parents” trying to intimidate ME. In all three cases, it ended badly for the parents.

catlady

May 17th, 2013
10:17 am

Old Physics: That is what comes from being a more experienced teacher, I think. And, I have always had great support from my principals. I try not to let them down, and I expect the same. Any time they want to ask me why I have done something, I can readily explain it in a way that shows it was to be of benefit to the child. I have never sent a student to the principal in a fit of anger. And, when parents have said absurd stuff, I have laughed at them and felt free to tell them their child was jerking their chain. It comes as a revelation to many.

I am fortunate, also, because I am teaching many “grandstudents”–children of the children I taught at age 5!

FCM

May 17th, 2013
11:20 am

@ catlady….I figure if I agree to believe about 1/3 of the stories my children tell about teachers; then teachers can agree to believe 1/3 of what mine say about me.

Got a call from school one time. Mrs FCM we want to talk and see if we can give you some financial assistance or get you in touch with the right sources. HUH? I said what do you mean? Well Susie seemed tired today and when we asked her she said she was hungry she had not had breakfast. We asked her why not and she said because there is no food in the house. Now Mrs FCM, we know the economy is not great, do not be ashamed you need help.

I said would you like to look at the grocery bill? There is food in the house. Susie apparently did not want to eat said food. She has cereal she picked out, eggos, toast, eggs, nutri-bars, fruit, and if that doesn’t work she can warm up the left over pot-roast or pizza. The lady said “really?” I said sure ask her about those. Susie later said, well I wanted Mom to go get Dunkin Donuts, she said no so I didn’t eat.

Far cry from what school heard.

Denise

May 17th, 2013
4:55 pm

@FCM – that sounds like what my niece did once. My brother’s fiance couldn’t pick her up from preschool so she called and asked that she go to the afterschool program for the day. No big deal. Well, when the fiance gets to the school, my niece acts like she doesn’t know who she is so the teacher – who knows neither my niece nor the fiance – thinks that some crazy white lady is trying to steal a black child so she says no and tells the fiance that if she wants my niece she better come back with the principal saying that she can take her. Of course when they come back with the principal my niece laughs and says she knows the fiance and says she only said she didn’t know her and didn’t want to go with her because she was having fun at the afterschool program and didn’t want to leave yet. Fiance was mortified yet relieved that the cops weren’t coming but we thought it pretty funny. Niece was 4 years old. She should have gotten a “talking to” about that but they let it pass. Hopefully she doesn’t pull it again but we laughed our butts off at the retelling of this story.