Below is an excerpt from a middle school principal’s email home to parents:

“We had a terrific first day of school. Here are a few housekeeping rules, procedures, and answers to frequently asked questions that may be helpful as we navigate through the first few days/weeks of school.

“Time to Let Go. Please don’t drop off items that are not absolutely necessary for your child to function in school. It is time to shift responsibility to them and not you. Make plans before your child leaves home for pick-up/practice etc. We will give messages to kids at 8:10 a.m., lunch, and end of day ONLY (outside of an emergency). Let your child know that if they forgot to bring their lunch have them see an adult here and we will get lunch for them. If they forget their laptop DO NOT bring it in. They will be fine and learn more from forgetting it than you bringing it in. You will do more for your child in the long run by letting them stumble and learn from their mistakes than they will learn by you doing everything for them. It may seem a tad harsh (I know as a parent myself) but I have worked with middle school students for the past 18 years and know what they are capable of accomplishing when given the opportunity to be responsible.”

Well, what do you think of them apples? How do you do it? Do what, you ask? Parent your children, of course. After reading this I wondered if I really had been a good parent at all. I wondered how I had ever survived parenting my children without this principal’s instructions. I reread it to be sure I read it correctly. I had indeed. Then I thought about it for a few days. The more I thought about it, the more incensed I became.

In his/her email the principal says he/she has been working with middle school students for 18 years. OK? So, I guess that makes him/her the expert on parenting pre-teens and the authority to educate me or any parent on how to parent our children. The audacity of bureaucrats like this one, an un-elected one to boot, is quite appalling.

I have been a parent for 36 years, count ’em, 36, and have been a grandparent for 16 years. Not once in all those years have I sought or taken advice from any school principal or other government official on parenting children. I’m not sure how I made it this far without intervention!

So, I would ask all educators everywhere to take a step back, to pause to ask yourselves if you are crossing the line between educator and parent. And there is a line. It’s not nearly as blurry as some would have you believe. The most important thing to note is to acknowledge that the line is there and monitor how close you are to it (keeping back 500 feet is a real safe distance).

Just one last reminder, we allow you to educate our children, not parent them.

Jeffrey M. Pierce is a Windham resident.

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