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A teacher worries about today’s parents

A teacher worries about today’s parents

Carolyn Probst has been a schoolteacher for 30 years at West Liberty, Iowa. She knows what life and kids are all about. She thinks that kids are pretty great.

It’s the parents who have her concerned.

“As the beginning of a new school year approaches, I sometimes wonder just what parents are thinking,” she said in a conversation the other day. “Over the years, it seems the students haven’t changed as much as the parents have.”

Not all parents deserve the scolding that Carolyn gives them. But her thoughts deserve being taped to the door of the fridge.

Carolyn teaches sixth-grade science at West Liberty Middle School. Teaching is in her genes. Her mother, Martha, was a teacher for 41 years.

“I don’t think I’ll make it that long,” Carolyn wryly says. “I worry not just about today’s parents. I worry about the young adults their children are becoming.”

Her principal, Vicki Vernon, says Carolyn “really cares about her students.”

Carolyn succinctly put her thoughts down in this motherly, yet strict, way:

“WHAT HAPPENED to the parents who gave their kids time, and not things?

“WHAT HAPPENED to the parents who expected their children to do their homework without being bribed to do it? Children knew homework was not optional, and no one else did it for them. Those parents limited their children’s extracurricular activities. Those parents understood that over-scheduling and micromanaging their children’s activities and time robbed them of their childhood.

“WHAT HAPPENED to the kitchen table, where families ate meals together, discussed the day’s happenings, and learned how to carry on a conversation face to face? Parents knew they could not teach their children to be respectful, cooperative, and tolerant of differences if they did not spend time together practicing those skills.

“WHAT HAPPENED to the parents who understood the marriage was first and foremost in the family? Those parents knew that happy marriages made happy families and well-adjusted children. The marriage, not the children, was at the center of the family. Parents and children talked to each other, laughed together, worked side-by-side, and learned they could depend on each other in times of need. Those parents raised well-adjusted children who understood they weren't the center of the universe, who could deal with disappointment, and not resort to violence to solve their problems.

“WHAT HAPPENED to the parents who said ‘no’ to their children more often than ‘yes’, because they knew it taught them self-discipline, and how to deal with disappointment? Parents knew if they couldn't say ‘no’ to a young child’s whim, they couldn't say no to a teenager’s demands. Parents said ‘no’ from an early age and said it often. Before long, these children learned that ‘no’ wasn't the end of the world. Parents modeled ‘no’ for their children when they themselves engaged in self-discipline, resisting the temptation of instant gratification. In saying ‘no’ to limit extracurricular activities, parents taught their children to set priorities.

“WHAT HAPPENED to the parents who expected their children to do regular work habits from an early age for the benefit of the household? No rewards, no allowances, just because it needed to be done. Doing chores was not an option; it was expected because parents knew it taught responsibility, and dependability. Those children learned that in doing for others, they too receive.”

Contact Bill Wundram at 563-383-2249 or


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