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The Principle vs. The Principal…or…Let me be the parent!

Today I have to meet with the Principal at my son’s school.   

I know what you are thinking:  “What did your son do that requires you to meet with the Principal?”    The answer is nothing.  My son is doing very well in the second grade.  I couldn’t be happier with his progress.   

The issue comes in that his mother and I found out that his school has been showing movies during recess.  It seems that the cold weather and a construction project have prevented the kids from going outside to “blow off the stink” as mom used to say.     Don’t get me wrong, I love movies.  I’m selective in what I bring home, but I sometimes like a movie to relax or escape from the daily stuff.  Anyway, the movie they are currently showing is rated PG….you know, PG for Parental Guidance?   We never received a notice that the movie was going to be shown.  We were never informed that movies were and option during recess.  We never received a permission slip authorizing Jacob to watch any movie.   

Understand, that I am a Christ-follower first, and a husband and father second.  It is important to note that those two are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, they are as co-dependent as it gets.  God has entrusted me with the job of raising my family to be righteous and holy before him.  When it comes to the influence that the “world” is going to exert on my family, my role is to make sure that little eyes are not seeing what they should not see and little ears are not hearing what they should not hear.  (This principle applies equally to “grown-up” ears, as well)  For I believe that when little ears are hearing, and little eyes are seeing what they shouldn’t, little mouths may begin to speak thing they shouldn’t and we embark down a very slippery slope.   

So, I am now tasked with talking to “Mr. Principal” about a principle.  I need to carefully communicate that he cannot usurp my authority as a father by showing movies that he should not see.  He cannot expose my son to curriculum that is inappropriate or inconsistent with my values.  If they want to show a movie (which is fine), I would like to know, in advance, what movie they are going to show.  I would like to have an opportunity to discretely “opt him out” of seeing a movie if I object to any of the content in that movie. 

The bottom line is that I want to prevent him from seeing material that would potentially cause him to grow up too fast, or develop character traits that are inconsistent with God’s plan for him.  For all of his talents, my son doesn’t have the skills necessary to police his own viewing.  God has given that responsibility to me.  The “world” doesn’t have his best interest in mind.  I do, and God does. 

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5 Responses

  1. I couldnt agree more. I can imagine so many parents, even Christian parents, are rolling their eyes about now thinking “here we go again”, but in truth, where do we draw the line? If we allow the world to overstep our authority as parents, what message does that send to our kids? As i see it, it makes us seem flakey at best..inconsistant..and waivering in our own convictions. The results are that our children walk in that “gray area”. They grow to think its okay to forget your principles when its convenient for you. We must be clear and consistant. We should stick to our beliefs and leave no room for question. In the end, the world may still roll their eyes, but our children will know we stood up for whats right in God’s eyes.

  2. I also agree! You exemplify a parent actually parenting! And, what would be wrong with the children actually playing games or making up stories during recess? This babysitting with movies or videos is soooo counterproductive to children’s well-being. Glad you took a stand! Would love to hear a follow-up of how the meeting with the principal went.

  3. I did meet with the Principal. He seems to understand that they were wrong. He claimed that he was out of the building at a conference and had no knowledge that his lunch aides were showing this movie. He showed me a memo that went out to the entire staff that day advising that no PG movies were to be shown without his permission, and the parent’s permission.

    While this issue is seemingly done, I am not really happy with the school in general. I think most of the issues that come up are directly related to having a principal (or administration) that is reactive. The fact that the lunch aide showed this movie in the first place is evidence that the standard was not clearly communicated ahead of time. The fact that our son has been a part of “group punishment” when his behavior was fine and when only a few students were guilty, is a ‘knee jerk’ reaction that reflects poor leadership. The fact that 4th grade students who have been suspended from riding the bus on three separate occasions for fighting continue to ride the bus and continue to fight is reactive. We need a leader, not a reactionary.

    In a recent email to the principal, I wrote the following:

    “……..I guarantee you that I hold Jacob to a higher standard than you do when it comes to respect and listening to authority. I trust that you have seen this standard reflected in his behavior and attitude while in your school. I am not so presumptuous as to assume that he will never make a mistake. When he does, I expect that the school will notify me so that I can deal with it at home as well. I further expect that Jacob (as well as any student )understand that behavior has consequences. I expect he would definitively know what those consequences are. I firmly believe that punishment without immediate consequences is of no value.”

    After speaking with him (on several occasions) I believe the principal cares deeply for the students in his school. But frankly ,I don’t think he has the leadership or communication skills to be the principal. He would be far better suited to an assistant principal or counselor role. Our school needs a leader who is proactive and who is an effective communicator.

  4. Sadly, also, we’re seeing more parents who will not support the school when discipline needs to be given out…for cheating, fighting, etc. There are increasing numbers of cases where parents do not want their children punished for cheating, saying it might impact their future college or job prospects. Our society sure has some ‘splainin’ to do.

    Thank God, we then have other parents like you who are willing to stand for the better values. Perhaps you will be the lightening rod in that school to promote true leadership by the school staff.

  5. Thanks for your vote of confidence. I think parenting is going to bring about my fair share of ‘battle scars’ It will be worth it in the end.

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