A Sydney school principal has slammed helicopter parents who are going to extreme measures to interfere in their child’s education, likening their behaviour to that of a hippopotamus biting off a crocodiles head.
Sharing his message via a school newsletter, the head of St Andrews Cathedral School, Dr John Collier shone a light on the high levels of parental anxiety and numerous times staff members have been verbally abused, physically threatened or shouted at.
“As parents, we tend to reach when we perceive our child is threatened. This seems to bring forth a reptilian kind of defensive response. Recently I read of a hippopotamus in a river in Africa, which, seeing a crocodile move towards her offspring, bit its head off. Sometimes as parents we can be a bit like that,” Collier explained.
Parenting and teaching seems to be changing and the days of teachers always being right and having the authority at school is being flung out the window.
When Baby Boomers were in school it was normal for students to receive a smack on the hand with a ruler as punishment, however, according to Collier parents do not trust teachers anymore and are trying to control their child’s education beyond the usual parameters.
“A couple of years ago, a middle school parent said to me that he knew the 13 staff members who had observed his daughter committing an offence were all lying, as his daughter said she was innocent. It is very hard to make progress with this level of unreality,” he said.
“My advice to parents who work themselves into a state of high anxiety over single incidents, or even sets of incidents, is to take a step back and look at the long view. Parents who regularly place this stress upon themselves will be nervous wrecks by the end of Year 12! Moreover, they often inadvertently pass on this stress to their children, so worsening rather than improving the problem.”
Wanting to protect his staff and provide the best education for students, Collier said parents need to relax and trust that their children will still reach their potential without their parents constantly watching over their shoulder.
“It is far better to work in the real world instead of a projected ideal and aim to achieve the best of what is always going to be a human situation despite the foibles of people. These people with foibles are also known as children, teachers and parents,” he explained.
“As our children would say to us: “Chill!”.