And someone in the conversation inevitably says, "The problem begins at home, with parents, and we can't do anything about that."
End of conversation.
That's it? That's the end? We just throw our hands up and surrender?
But I do not believe this is a mic-drop moment.
There are a couple of points to be made here.
First, I believe it is more than a family problem. To point the finger back at ourselves, I think education is a part of this problem. I am under the opinion that we have created some of the issues that we see in front of us every day in our schools. Not only are we so worried about legal issues that we often fail to effectively connect with our pupils, but we also tend to be so nurturing ourselves that we take responsibilities away from parents. Out of concern that I will be offensive with my comments, I should probably stop right there. Suffice it to say that if we don't allow students to feel some of the pains that come with irresponsibility, they are destined to repeat the same irresponsibilities.
Second, I believe that we do affect home life. If we wave the white flag and claim that we are doomed, then we are doomed. To failure. Since when do we, touters of Growth Mindset, give up? Dare I say, that makes us hypocrites. Even if what we believe is true, we must still believe that we affect a future home life.
Those kids listen to you. Those of us teachers who are also parents know this fact of life: a kid will often believe a teacher before he believes his mom or dad. That doesn't mean we try to undo the principles of the family at hand, but it does mean that we do our best to instill positive behaviors that will enhance our society. I know, for example, that many parents are not giving their children adequate training in using good manners - saying thank you, excuse me or I'm sorry, looking people in the eyes, offering a firm shake of the hand. Regardless, we can easily enhance our students' futures by providing them with behaviors that will raise their level of employability. Future families will be improved if we can infuse them with a behavior model that includes consideration for the people around them.
So, dear teacher, stop believing you can't change them without parental support. You're selling yourself short if you believe what you do is futile.