Exasperated teacher takes on Japan's 'monster parents'
Fierce phone calls storm in, the angry speakers combat-ready with flaring resentment. The only thing the receiver can utter over the machine-gunning tirade is a continuous parade of “gomenasai.”
This isn't untypical of how things proceed when dealing with telephone complaints. But this isn't an irate customer who's been sold some dodgy osechi. This phone call takes place in a teachers’ lounge.
The complaints come from so-called “monster parents,” as they are often nicknamed by the local media. These super-aggressive Japanese parents continually find fault with the way teachers treat their kids, and suggest unreasonable ways in how they can do their jobs better.
And more often than not, the teachers will go out of their way to appease the ferocious parent. Nothing frightens Japanese school teachers more than a possible lawsuit that might jeopardize their career. In Japan it is not uncommon for parents to sue teachers.
But one female elementary school teacher in Saitama prefecture could be about to turn the tables.
On January 18 she announced her intention to sue the parents of one of her students over their excessive complaints, which caused her insomnia.
According to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, it’s the first-ever case in Japan where a school teacher has litigated against the parents. The teacher in question has demanded ¥5 million as compensation.
The changing relationship
Local responses have included support for the teacher, while others have recalled their childhood to describe how the relationship between school and parents has changed.
“With our local friendships now gone, school teachers are the only people that the parents can unleash their frustration against. So if your child gets lost, you used to just ask your neighbors to look for him and everything was all right, while now you call your school first and go like ‘it’s all your fault!’,” says one person.
“Three decades ago, whenever I got my teacher mad and got slapped by him, my mom would often go to see my teacher for an apology, saying ‘I’m sorry for what my son did this time.’ I have to admit that times have changed,” says another.
The news apparently inspired the local media to investigate further examples of the Japanese “monster parents” gone crazy in their attempt to protect their adorable children. Here are some of the more extreme, put together by Nikkan-gendai.
“My child has lost a wallet somewhere in school. Buy him a new one.” -- Parents from Kanagawa.
“Make sure you check out the weather forecast every day, and let me know first if there is any need to have my kid bring an umbrella.” -- Parents from Kanagawa.
“Let my son sleep during a class, because he’s been very busy going to a cram school lately.” -- Parents from Kanagawa.
“No one in my family is good at waking up early in the morning, so give us a phone call every morning so we won’t oversleep.” -- Parents from Fukui.
“Since my daughter has been taking a private lesson to become a professional pianist, don’t let her play outside during a break, so she won’t hurt her fingers.” -- Parents from Tokyo.