Teachers are some of the most overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated people in the world. They work tirelessly to educate the next generation, and often without thanks. In addition to their hard work in the classroom, they must also deal with a variety of parents. Though some parents are generous and supportive, others can be rude and overbearing.
We asked teachers of the BuzzFeed Community to share their worst interactions with parents, and the responses were equal parts infuriating and devastating. Prepare to get mad:
1. "We had a parent send in numerous notes anonymously that contained a lot of derogatory remarks about our principal, deans, and some other staff members. It was disturbing and only got darker. The last note took it five steps further with threatening comments about harming staff members, and the letter contained a DAY-OLD DEAD MOUSE. It smelled so bad. Police got involved and discovered it was one of our students' parents. They asked her where she got the dead mouse, and I guess she responded with, 'I grabbed one from around my house.'"
2. "My son passed away at age 14. Six weeks later, I returned to the classroom, as hard as it was. I had parent-teacher conferences, so I met with this couple. Their child was getting all A's but didn’t receive the attention he felt he should have (he was a very spoiled only child). When asked a question, I responded that I would have to check with the sub, as I had been out for the last six weeks. The wife said, 'Your dead son isn’t our problem. You should know what's going on in the classroom when you're gone.' I was floored! She's actually a nurse at an elementary school."
3. "A parent was at her wit’s end trying to manage her son’s behavior. I recommended having consequences, like taking his PlayStation until he handed assignments in. She asked if I could do it. She literally asked me to stop by their house on my way home from work to dole out consequences to her kid. When I explained it was inappropriate on many levels, she said it wouldn’t seem natural if she did it because she’d never had any rules for him. And she wondered why he behaved this way?"
4. "A third-grade student broke my arms. He was trying to attack his classmates, and the only thing I could do was stand between them. I was out for six weeks in casts. When I returned, his parent came in and yelled at me for taking the time off and said it was the reason her son didn't know his multiplication facts."
5. "A parent once told me that teaching literature was a sin. I am a language teacher, so 60% of what I teach is literature! Apparently, some weird version of the Bible says that the telling of stories is wrong and there is only one truth. His kids were only allowed to read the Bible at home. No books, no TV, no movies. I had no idea what to say to him."
6. "I teach 5- to 8-year-olds, and I once had a student projectile-vomit all over the classroom floor. This was when we first came back after the pandemic, so we had strict procedures about sending sick students home. I called his mom, and she accused me of not knowing the difference between throw-up and spit-up, and said that she was absolutely not picking up her child. I had to get administration involved, and she finally came to get him. I got an email from her later telling me she hoped I got COVID-19. Good times."
7. "I had a parent tell me it was my fault that her child plagiarized his project because I didn’t require a rough draft. The worst part? My administration backed her up and allowed him to resubmit. It was still plagiarized."
8. "I had a student turn in a 'report' that was just a page printed off of the web, with the web address still on the top of the page. I gave him a zero. His mom came in enraged and insisted that he deserved full points. I explained that he needed to do the work himself. She insisted he did do the work because he found and printed the page."
9. "I had a parent come in and yell at me in front of all of my students. It was the day after report cards, and her fifth-grader had gotten an F in conduct. He had recently punched two of the girls in my classroom and called two other girls lesbians because they were friends. She said he didn't deserve the F because he'd only done those things over two days of the quarter. She argued that since he didn't get in trouble the other days, I should've given him the A."
10. "One of my students started a fight on the school bus and was suspended from riding the bus. His mom asked for a conference with me where she proceeded to scream and curse at me for getting him 'kicked off the bus.' I told her I had nothing to do with it; the driver made the decision. She then accused me of turning the driver against her son. I had to explain that I had never even met his bus driver, and again, I had nothing to do with this decision."
11. "I used to work at a before- and after-school program, and lots of parents would come in and verbally harass me and my coworkers. One parent came in on two occasions to scream at us because we voiced our concerns about her child's behavior. The child was verbally abusing the teachers and other kids and running off school property whenever things did not go his way. When we mentioned this, the parent's response was to scream at us (full-on tirade of insults, swearing, threats, etc.), tell us that we were underqualified for our jobs, and accuse us of abusing and singling out her child. Other teachers voiced the same concerns to the parent, but she would always choose to scream at me and my coworkers. Things finally improved after the supervisor got involved, but that parent was one of the many reasons I chose to leave that program."
12. "I was teaching an honors high school math class. The parent could not understand why her son wasn’t getting an A. She was convinced it was my fault because he had always gotten A's before now. I showed her all of his tests and the list of missing assignments. She then looked me dead in the eye and said, 'Oh honey, this must be your first year teaching.' Nope. I’d also taught her older son two years prior."
13. "The curriculum jump from fifth- to sixth-grade math is pretty significant. A student who had never had a problem with math was really struggling. I was doing everything I could to help, but I had a class of 31 that year, plus students with significant learning disabilities. The student's dad came in for a meeting and criticized everything — my lessons, my ability to teach, and how quickly I graded tests. He and his wife completely made their daughter (with whom I had previously had a good rapport) hate me. The rest of the school year, she refused to ever speak to me or even make eye contact. Thinking about that family still makes my blood boil."
14. "The day after a class party, a mother came to school to complain that her daughter had gotten a smaller cookie than the other students. Her daughter was the student who handed out the cookies."
15. "I had a middle school student a few years ago who was mad at me for giving them a failing grade on an assignment that they submitted completely blank. They came into my classroom, walked straight over to my desk, and poured an entire 20-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew on my school computer, keyboard, and desk. When I phoned the student's dad and told him what had happened, he was furious at me and told me that his child did it because I wasn't showing her enough love and support, and that it was my job to make sure his daughter felt loved so she wouldn't act out."
16. "Students were finding their seats before class when I saw student A start choking student B. I raised my voice to get their attention and told student A to see the principal while I talked to student B. The next day, student A’s parents showed up in my classroom before school, and the dad yelled at me for a solid 40 minutes about how yelling is never a productive method of management. He said he knew this because he managed 20 people. The same parents threatened to sue me a month later because their son got a C. He didn’t tell them he was allowed to do test corrections. They claimed I didn’t have it properly posted on a wall in my classroom."
17. "When I interned at a middle school, the supervising teacher recommended I make a call to the parents of an unruly seventh-grader. After explaining what the student was doing to disrupt the class, the parent said, 'I don’t call you about what he does at home at night, so don’t call me about what he does to you at school!'"
18. "I’m a math teacher, and I was in a parent-teacher conference with a group of other teachers for a young lady who was not doing well in most of her classes. I was telling her mother she just needed to complete some assignments for her grade to improve, and this mother looked at me and said, 'Girls can’t do math.' Needless to say, as a female math teacher, I was shocked this mom would play into such stereotypes and make it known she believed them."
19. Finally: "At my very first parent-teacher conference (years ago), I was telling a mother about her son's behavior in class and asked her to speak to him about proper conduct. She replied, 'Honey, I feed him, clothe him, and get him to the bus stop. The rest is up to you people.' Whaaa?"
Teachers, I know you've got your own stories! What's the worst encounter you've ever had with a student's parent? Tell us your story in the comments below!
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.