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Stop Whining, Parents!

Angry child
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This post might not win me many friends in parenting circles, but it needs to be said.

Every year around the start of school, some parents start throwing temper tantrums over stupid things like attendance policies and school uniforms. Grow up, guys. You’re making the rest of us look bad.

I’m not talking about legitimate gripes and concerns parents have with the school system – and there are plenty. There are the constant fundraisers, the endless school fees, and the ever-expanding supply lists that seem to just get bigger and bigger every single day after your kid comes home and tells you yet another teacher wants yet another special binder or weirdly specific brand of glue stick that wasn’t on the supply list you already bought everything for weeks ago. Gripe about the boundless horror and eternal chaos of the drop-off and pick-up line that makes you late to work every morning, no matter how early you leave the house. Yell about the curriculum and Common Core, if you want to. Shout about standardized testing and whether or not evolution should be taught in Science class. Go for it!

These are all legit pain points parents have a right to complain about. But some things? Come on.

First up, let’s talk about that attendance policy some of you are so angry about. I don’t know if you’re mad that there’s a policy at all, or if you just don’t like that it penalizes parents as much as it does students. Either way, you’re being ridiculous.

School classroom in Japanese high school
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The attendance policy actually comes from state law that says your kid can’t be habitually absent or tardy, or you – the parent – face fines, community service, and/or jail time, depending on the number of offenses. Local school board policy defines what habitually means and can vary from parish to parish, but the thing to understand here is that it’s only talking about unexcused absences (and tardies). I’ll put the key word here in bold, in case you didn’t notice the italics I used the first time: unexcused. And here it is one more time, italicized and in bold capital letters, just to cover all the bases. UNEXCUSED.

There’s absolutely no reason any student should rack up multiple unexcused absences or even tardies during a semester. There’s a reason attendance is mandatory, you know – because, in order for them to get anything out of school, kids have to actually be in school. They can’t learn when they’re not there.

Besides, if the school sends your kid home because of illness, that’s an excused absence. If your kid is legit sick enough to stay home from school for a week, then take that poor child to the doctor because seriously, your kid’s been sick for days and obviously needs medical attention. Get a note while you’re there. Ta-da! EXEMPTED AND EXCUSED.

In fact, there’s a whole list of extenuating circumstances that can get your kid an excused absence, covering everything from extended illness and hospital stays, to things like approved travel for educational purposes and religious holidays. Bottom line: if your kid has a valid reason for missing school, it’ll be excused and probably even exempted. If he doesn’t, it won’t.

Pretty simple stuff.

Sure, the law says that students must attend at least 167 of the 177 days of class in order to graduate or move on to the next grade, which translates to 10 absences (or 5 each semester) – but the law isn’t nearly as restrictive as some parents are making it out to be. Social media is abuzz with people making a big fuss about how the law doesn’t specifically mention excused or unexcused, but it does. Don’t believe me? Here, check out what the Louisiana Department of Education has to say on the matter:

Exempted and Excused: The student is allowed to make up the missed work and the absence is not counted against the attendance requirement. Examples are extended illness documented by a doctor or to celebrate religious holidays. There is no limit to these absences.

If your kid has a legitimate reason for missing school and you, as the parent, provide acceptable documentation for the absence, it will not count against the attendance requirements, and there is no limit to these absences.

Don’t have a doctor’s note? Your kid will still get an excused absence, but it will count against the attendance requirement. That gives you 10 days a year to not take your kids to the doctor whenever they get sick, which is way more than any parent should ever need. If your child has a chronic illness that causes regular absences, then get a note from the doctor explaining the situation, and the school will work with you. It’s not scary, and it’s not difficult.

As for uniforms: Suck it up, Buttercup. No, they’re not “oppressive” or “strict” – they’re just uniforms. They are what they are: a very specific list of acceptable articles of clothing. They’re not open to you or your child’s personal interpretations.

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If the uniform policy says plain white socks, it means plain white socks. It doesn’t mean pink socks or polka dot socks, or white socks with designs on them. If it says hunter green polo shirts, it doesn’t mean purple shirts, orange shirts, or neon green Under Armour. If it says khaki pants, it doesn’t mean dark brown slacks or skinny jeans.

And don’t even start with the whole business of how kids can’t express themselves with uniforms, because of course they can. They just have to try a little harder than buying mass-produced clothes off the rack to express their unique personalities.

Wanna know where your kids’ unique personalities actually come from? THEIR UNIQUE PERSONALITIES. Clothes shouldn’t have anything to do with it.

Teach your children it’s what they do that matters, not what they wear. It’ll not only help them stand out in the uniform crowd, but it’s also a pretty dang good life lesson.

Look, I know this whole parenting thing is hard. I’m a parent, too. We’re only in the first week of school and I’m already exhausted from waking up earlier than normal, doing more each day, and going to bed later than I’m used to. You mean we have to do this every day? I CAN’T EVEN.

Except I can. And so can you. Because our kids are worth it.

To sum up: Get your kids to school on time and wearing the right clothes, each and every day – unless they’re sick or have some other valid reason for missing class. After all, a big part of this whole school thing is supposed to teach kids responsibility, independence, and personal accountability – which starts at home, with the example we set for them to follow.

Let’s make it a good one.

READ MORE: You Know School's Back In Session In Louisiana When...

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