It was a weekday afternoon in the spring when my son’s kindergarten teacher contacted the ghostly teenager. The teacher reported that in a social studies unit on the family, my son told his classmates the story of his eighteen-year-old brother who would pick him up every afternoon from school. I laughed out loud when I got the note, which was sent via ClassDojo, the messaging app used by public elementary schools in Brooklyn. My son doesn’t have a brother of any age, but I can immediately picture this one – for some reason I picture him as one of the seniors in Dazed and Confused, parked outside the school in his dirty old Pontiac. On the door, with a Marlboro Red in his mouth, Vogt wafts from the tape recorder. But the teacher didn’t seem to find it funny. She asked me to talk to my kid about the importance of being “honest” and “reviewing with people in his family.”
I feel reluctance about this assignment because perhaps like many parents, I enjoy it whenever my son makes some edits to reality. It refreshed my own sluggish and parched imagination, and gave me a glimpse into his inner world—a parallel universe in which he flew alone to Tokyo, designed a train that traveled infinite miles an hour, and Built a robotic arm that can see. future. That’s not to say that this fantasy big brother was an outlier: an unscientific sampling of my friends showed many boys who had sisters but lied about having brothers, girls who had brothers who lied about having sisters, and girls who lied about having The only child of siblings of either sex. Some people have told me they added fake siblings to family drawings they submitted at school. A child cuts pictures of children from magazines and treats them as relatives. Another talked about her non-existent sister so much so that her teacher congratulated her dad on the birth of a new baby.
Still, that night, I asked my son about his brother in the friendliest, just curious voice. As I feared, he immediately recognized the nature of the problem—the agent’s allegations—and denied it all. Tried to get him to confess to lying and ended up telling another lie.
More than sixty years ago, pediatrician and psychoanalyst DW Winnicott speculated that some parents overreact to benign theft and inadvertently foster a tendency to cheat in their children. When a very young child begins to understand that his mother does not belong to him, that she is not an extension of him, this gradual intrusion of realization may initiate a stage of stealing – taking coins from her purse, hiding candy, etc. —as compensation for losing what Winnicott called “full rights to the mother.” Winnicott writes: “If parents feel they have to go after these actions and ask their children to explain why they did what they did, they greatly increase the difficulties of their children.” or the emotional inner logic of the act of punishment:
Sure, it’s a bit melodramatic, but it effectively crystallizes the plot roiling in the mind of a confused toddler. Shaming him for lying probably doesn’t make him evil, Winnicott paced. But that doesn’t stop him from lying, since a child’s lies are usually more easily interpreted as a wish. Lie #1: I wish I had a cool brother. Lie #2: I wish I hadn’t said I have a cool brother because now I’m in trouble.
In Joanna Faber and Julie King’s charming and highly useful 2017 bestseller How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen, they treat lies as wishes. The co-authors, like Winnicott, resisted the temptation to humiliate others. Children lie, and they liken it to “punishing a baby who poops in a diaper.” Learning to tell a lie is an important cognitive milestone that marks a child’s early stage of developing a theory of mind, that is, being aware of what other people think, want or expect, what might please them and what might impress them. Make a deep impression. (My son later clarified to me that his brother drives a gorgeous Tesla, not a battered Pontiac.)
“Being able to say something you know isn’t true when other people can’t tell is a developing skill,” Kim told me during a recent Zoom session with her and Ferber. It’s also a hallmark of early empathy and decorum. “Sociable kids learn not to say, ‘Grandma’s pasta is disgusting.’ They learn to say, ‘Thanks a lot, I’m full,'” says Faber.
Through the zoom screen, Kim radiates empathy and empathy, while Faber is humorous and cheerfully chatty; both look like the moms everyone goes to after school. We talk about our children, our childhoods, our parents. Ferber said she once told her mom she was a dog. “I really wanted a dog, so I decided I was going to be a dog,” she explained. Her mother, Adele Faber, a best-selling parenting expert in her own right, allowed young Joanna to place a water bowl on the kitchen floor. Although her mother did ban tummy time for dinner, “she never said, ‘First you have to admit you’re not a dog,'” Faber told me.
Ferber went on to say that introducing the concepts of accuracy and responsibility into the fictional world of innocents in kindergarten is “kind of brutal.” “It’s a stage of development where we explore our worlds, ideas and relationships through fantasy and play. That’s what it’s like to be a child.” In many cases, the problem isn’t the whimsical tale a six-year-old makes up. The problem is that pundits see making up whimsical stories as a problem.
If I were a parent from a previous generation, I probably would never have known about my Tesla-driving teenager. When I was a K-12 student, in the 1880s and 1990s, my school might contact my mother during the day for exactly two reasons: When I (always) forgot to sign field trip permits , and when I need to get home sick. All other information and observations are incorporated into report cards and, in elementary schools, annual parent-teacher conferences. In contrast, last year I received a flood of calls and one-on-one texts from the schools my son and daughter attend. One was reporting that one of my kids felt a bit of a headache and went to the nurse to get a glass of water, another mildly criticized a classmate’s artwork, and another spilled milk on the cafeteria floor.
In a national survey released in 2013, only four in 10 K-12 families said they had received a call about their child during the previous school year. But as the coronavirus pandemic prompts a shift to distance learning, parents of young children are often in near constant direct contact with teachers to log attendance, submit classwork and get help with assignments.With full-time face-to-face learning resuming, I continue to receive a steady stream of one-on-one calls and texts from my school, as well as school-wide, grade-wide, and class-wide announcements on ClassDojo—something that seems leftover Coronavirus Second-rate.
It is a sad paradox that the pandemic has increased the number of contacts between many teachers and parents, while also exacerbating tensions between them. During distance learning, teachers can see students’ homes, parents can see classrooms and library shelves; neither group necessarily likes what they see.school can not CoronavirusTimes decisions do not worry or irritate many families, whether they involve shielding and testing orders, closures or hybrid learning schedules. Some teachers think parents want to force them back into the classroom when it’s unsafe; some parents think cautious teachers are faking sickness. (These ostensibly opposing groups overlap heavily: most teachers are parents.)
When in-person classes fully resumed, schools reported spikes in misbehavior and emotional dysregulation among less socialized students. It stands to reason that these incidents mean more calls and text exchanges between schools and families that can be awkward or combative. On the right-wing political extreme, unease and mistrust between schools and parents set the stage for outrage over racial theories, explicit library books, gender confusion and trolling.Politicians and media have somewhat exaggerated parental dissatisfaction with schools in general – recent poll on schools by Pew Research Center and Morning Consult era The vast majority were found to be generally satisfied with their children’s education. In a Gallup poll conducted in August, 35% of K-12 parents said they were “fully satisfied” with the quality of education for their older children, while 41% were “somewhat satisfied.”
But even outside of the “Freedom Moms” panic room, tensions continue to fluctuate in more subtle ways. Michael Thompson is a child psychologist, school counselor, and author of several bestselling parenting books. Fifty-three years ago, he began his educational career as a secondary school teacher. “Over the past two decades, parents have become more anxious about parenting,” he told me. “Parents are more There. This is the most committed, conscientious, conscious parent group ever, but they are also very anxious. ’ For these parents, the pandemic is an anxiety factory. Then school goes back to where they can’t go There. “They think the more information they have, the better their child’s path to school will be,” Thompson said. “The hunger for information can become greedy at times. Teachers know that. They feed them information to feed the beast.” If some parents feel they are getting too much information, it may be because teachers are learning about react to changes.
Thompson is easy-smiling, bearded, and in a good mood—an effortless comfort, like an ed.D. on a fisherman’s sweater. By the end of our interview, I felt, as I did with Faber and Kim, that he knew my son better than my son’s teacher, or rather, me as my son’s mother experience. But I also realize that it shouldn’t bother me: Thompson says a well-meaning parent might feel like she’s defending her child when she’s in close contact with a teacher, but, a lot of the time, “the number of times you call The more, the less the teacher is trusted and the relationship deteriorates.”