There are many types of groups from good morning ones to the ones selling us stuff we don’t need, to the entire company and govt departments communicating through WhatsApp.
Whatsapp has become a ubiquitous channel for communication.
And in that ocean of groups, there is a parent WhatsApp group where parents of a class usually get together. How do they do it remains a mystery for almost all schools because only a few schools actively facilitate one, but nevertheless within a week, a new parent is added.
Now, it has its benefits like sharing of homework, circulars that can’t be deciphered otherwise, if you have missed school, etc. it helps.
But very often those groups turn toxic. And as a parent, you can always believe that what i say hereafter is laden with prejudice but believe me, we have one of the healthiest parent communities. We rarely face problems with parents and they are more than supportive of most of our endeavours whether it is exams at home or PTMs in school during COVID. So, this message is not from ggis, but from an educationist who is observant of the society.
So what is it that I observe?
Let me start with the types of parents/conversations that usually take place
The toxic conversation – it is usually the negative things that are discussed the most. Things missed out or things not attended. How often do you see gratitude and thankfulness being circulated on a parent group
I observe the belligerent and heavy-handed parent leading the conversation – usually, the outspoken one will talk and others will listen and even if they don’t totally agree, whether it is about the teacher not meeting her expectations or the school bus being late. The loudest voice becomes the voice of the group. But is the loudest voice the honest one? Is it the right path?
I also observe a lot of showing off and Dekha dekhi…. If one’s child has won an award or been appreciated by the school it is definitely posted as a badge of honour and nothing wrong with it. But if it keeps repeating itself, it breeds jealousy. And let us not even talk about the average child who becomes the victim of parents unmet expectations every time she sees someone else’s child achieving something.
Lastly, I observe student’s choices being affected by the conversation on the WhatsApp group. Our children are far more perceptive than we give them credit for. And they definitely have access to our groups and chats just the way they know our passcodes. When we belittle a teacher or the bus driver, we knowingly or unknowingly pass our impressions on them. Next time, they see the school, teacher and the adult with the same lens. But we forget that in our own school lives, we did not have all the good teachers only. We learnt to deal with a variety of people because our parents let us do it.
So what kind of Parent WhatsApp groups are you a part of? And what is your role? Have the groups caused anxiety in you? Has it been a bedrock of support? Have you seen your children get affected by it? Have you been a teacher who is also a parent and see both sides of the story?
Do share your views…
Take all discussions with a pinch of salt. Remember, there is always a different side to the story, teh side of the teacher, driver or the maid. Exercise discretion. Think before forming judgements.
If you disagree, speak up. You don’t have to justify your stand and neither do you have to wage a war but you should be able to say you disagree. And if that is not accepted in the group, think about why you are in the group.
Pick your concerns carefully. Not everything demands your attention. Your child’s future is not going to be affected because you missed out on a test or one of the teachers is not great. Don’t let others’ negativity become your reality.