How overly involved parents at schools affect students’ wellbeing
"Back in class four, I would use my mother's phone to log into my Facebook account as I didn't have a phone myself. I would also ensure that I logged out after using Facebook. One day, I saw a notification that someone had attempted to log into my account. At the time, if someone repeatedly entered the wrong password, the front camera would immediately switch on and take a photo. I was shocked to find out that it was my best friend's mother who tried logging into my account. I couldn't wrap my head around how a person my mother's age would want to invade the personal space of a fourth-grader, probably to find something that a fourth-grader wouldn't even think of doing," said Nafisa Tabassum Hawa, an HSC 2022 candidate.
As bizarre as this story may seem, the over-involvement of parents or even other guardians in a child's education or overall life is common in our country. From being judgemental about almost everything to being insensitive about asking very personal questions, these unhealthy practices have been making students' lives miserable for a long time now.
In some cases, parents are overprotective of their children. They develop an unhealthy fixation with the idea that their child is the best in the entire school, which sometimes leads them to grow the mentality of being envious of other kids and meddle in their lives.
"In school, some guardians would always ask me questions like why I went to school alone, why I didn't wear an orna, why my parents let me stand in the line alone to pay tuition fees, and so on. Some of them even used to get angry that I didn't help their kids cheat during exams. What made it more annoying was that they would gossip about all these behind my back and spread absurd rumours about me," said Fatima Farhana Prova, an MBA student from Jahangirnagar University (JU).
What's dismaying is that these parents are adults who also have children the same age and are making these vile remarks about young students. Judging other students is so normal to them that they think it's fine to talk about what clothes other kids are wearing, whom they are communicating with, and other private affairs.
Some overprotective parents continue to be highly controlling of their kids till the last years of their school lives, impeding their ability to grow up as responsible, independent individuals. And the students who actually try to learn basic life skills, like going to school by themselves or paying school fees without anyone's help, get criticised by these people.
Such insulting comments are not only made towards the students but their parents are frequently blamed as well. Parents who make such remarks think that the right way to go about parenting is to be overly involved in their children's lives. As a result, those who don't think like them are rebuked.
"Since I had working parents, I used to go to school alone," said Mehjabeen Khan, currently studying Computer Science and Information Systems at California State University. "Some guardians used to be so unnecessarily concerned that whenever my mom would drop me off at school once in a while, they would insult her for being a 'bad parent'. They even filled her ears with baseless acquisitions like me being a noshto meye, only because I had male friends."
These overly involved guardians play a vital role in influencing many students and their parents to do the same things that their kids do. And the most accurate example of this would be pressuring students into attending coaching classes.
Zakia Hossain*, an undergrad student at JU, shares her experience.
"One of my friends suffered almost every day for not being able to match his parents' expected academic standards. They sent him to several coaching classes taken by our school's teachers seven days a week. His results did get better, not because he had been studying hard but because he was a familiar face in almost all coaching classes. His mother also influenced other parents to send their children to more coaching classes for achieving better results in the exams."
Aside from these problems, some parents who prefer remaining in a group of other overly involved parents often meddle in other students' lives so much that they forget to respect their privacy or boundaries. This happens mostly because they don't consider children as individual human beings who need privacy.
The scary part of this overall toxic culture is that children are pushed to become more and more self-conscious as well as demotivated. As this problem lingers on for the rest of their school lives, they tend to lose respect toward the people who are involved with such practices, which includes their own parents. Such over-involvement of parents also creates a reflex of disobedience in children, and as usual, the entire blame shifts back to the children.
*Name has been changed upon request
Nadeemah is a contributing writer for SHOUT. You can reach her at [email protected]