Teachers and parents need to have some sort of working relationship in order to ensure the success of their child. But boundaries for teachers are extremely unclear and everybody always seems to have a different opinion on what is appropriate and what is not.
Reddit Imaginary_Special126 found himself in an awkward situation when his fiancée showed herself as extremely jealous due to interactions with his son’s teacher over text message.
Unclear about how to handle this, he went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” for some help in understanding.
“AITA for being mad that my fiancée reported my son’s teacher?”
Our original poster, or OP, and his fiancée have a son who is very talented, and has caught his teacher’s attention.
“So my son has this teacher, Carrie. I think she teaches English and art but only art for my son. My fiancée thinks she has a thing for me.”
“I just think she likes interacting with me because she studied in the same field as me before switching to education. So we have that interest in common and always have something to talk about whereas with my fiancée she just has general small talk.”
“Sometimes Carrie asks my son about me. Sounds sketchy when put as an isolated type of thing but apparently she also does it to this girl Sue in my son’s class who’s parents are chefs and a few other kids so it’s not a big deal. To me at least.”
“The thing that supposedly pushed my fiancée over the edge is that Carrie occasionally texts me. To understand this, you need to know that my son is great at art and draws comics which are pretty funny and creative.”
“Carrie picked this up and texts me links to competitions and the sorts.”
OP says these texts are harmless, but his fiancée doesn’t believe him.
“Fiancée knew about this but preferred it being sent on email but my emails get flooded so this is the easy method.”
“Literally her messages will read ‘Hi Clint, came across this for your son.’ and I’d respond with thanks. No inquiry on how my or her day was or any of that.”
After a text on Christmas, OP’s fiancée was none too happy.
“She sent one of these messages on Christmas and my fiancée lost it because it’s inappropriate to be texting me in the first place but even worse to do so on a holiday.”
“I mean she apologized in the message and the contents was going time limited so I get it but to make my fiancée feel better I suggested she sends these to my fiancée.”
And his fiancée took greater action.
“She understood and agreed but my fiancée decided to email the principal to formally complain about her behavior.”
“I’m not even mad. More like annoyed that she making a big fuss out of this and risking an awkward environment for our son.”
“I told her this and said she overreacted but it seems I’m TA [The A**hole) to her for being ‘mad’ at her. Aita?”
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
All said OP had a duty to be very clear and straightforward with all parties about what those texts involved.
“YTA if you don’t follow up with the school to correct any lies or half truths.”
“You say yourself there’s nothing inappropriate about what’s going on and if your fiancée wants to complain about exactly the situation that’s taking place, fine.”
“But if she’s making stuff up or exaggerating to try to get this woman fired, and you know about it, you’re punishing this woman for taking an active role in the lives of her students and risking her job over it.”~daisiesanddaffodils
“I agree. YTA and so is your fiancé.”
“It is so sad. I still remember when coming up to final exams in high school, the best few teachers gave us their personal numbers and would say, call anytime, even if it is 3am, if you need help in studying or figuring out how to do things.”
“They were so dedicated and I know many took them up on their offer. For me that it took the pressure off just knowing they were available which in itself made a huge difference.”
“These were both male and female teachers. It is people like OP’s fiancé that made this no longer possible.”
“But OP must have seen this coming from his comments and it was his own requests that caused this.”
“The teacher was unaware what was going on in his own home. So the fact he did not intervene earlier makes him an AH.”
“He needs to get his butt to the school and support the teacher. No matter what happens from here, the teachers reputation will be permanently tarnished and she will have learned to NEVER be so proactive and help with another child again.”
“And it goes without saying his fiancé is a controlling, selfish and jealous AH.”~30flips
“My mom teaches kindergarten and the parent’s have her number, but under normal circumstances she’ll text fairly rarely.”
“Only if they’re trying to schedule a conference, the parent texted her a question, etc.”
“Now that they’re doing online school she texts with/calls them more often and vice versa but that mainly consists of stuff about their internet connection/kid struggling to stay focused/etc.”
“And that’s just because the kids are little and a lot of parents are home with them.”
“NTA, OP, but make sure you’re maintaining boundaries going forward.”~terrible-aardvark
“The teacher is also not the a**hole. If you read the comments:”
“The teacher sends OP these messages because he asked her to. She mentioned it aloud and he asked her to send him information on any further ones.”
“OP states in the OP that he is the one who prefers text to e-mail, saying his e-mail is swamped.”
“Also in the comments, he gets at most one text a month. Only the opportunities for son he asked to be sent to him.”
“So this parent asked a teacher to send them specific information and preferred a text. She sends that specific information to the parent in the medium they requested.”
“This happens only once a month. There is no other conversation over text.”
“What a sl*t! She must want the D! . . . Come on. It is incredibly unfair to treat this teacher this way.”
“Fiancée is way over the line in threatening this woman’s career because she’s upset OP asked the teacher to send him info over text.”~TheHatOnTheCat
Still the responses varied.
Everybody has a different opinion on what is and is not appropriate for a teacher to do.
“NTA. Your fiancée is being dramatic and a bit immature. It sounds like this teacher cares a lot about her students.”
“You never once told her you felt uncomfortable with her communicating with you via text. I text parents in my class if I need to convey something quickly.”
“Teachers tend to reach out to the person who’s most responsive.. so my guess is mom isn’t.”
“Your fiancée trying to spin her communication as something inappropriate could cost her her job. She needs to grow up and have more faith in your relationship than that.”~AnArmAndaPlague
“ESH because as some other comments said, it is somewhat unprofessional to text parents from a personal phone number.”
“If there are things she wants to bring up to you regarding your son, that should be during conferences or a professional email linked to both of his parents.”
“It needs to not only be routed to you and I somewhat understand your partner’s concern.”
“While she may be asking other children about their parents, that doesn’t negate discomfort it can cause your fiancé when not strictly about school.”
“If she reports it, and it’s all clean like you say, there’s likely no action to be taken.”
“It may be a source of wariness of her in the future though so your fiancé is pushing this a bit further than it needs to go. Some teachers may be lax about texting but for many, that’s still a hard pass.”
“Remember that this could’ve been easily resolved but you are why the situation is why it is.”~mahalnamahal
“ESH. It would be one thing if this was your son from a previous relationship, but if it’s your fiancée’s son too, there is no reason she cannot have any say or be included on the matter.”
“It would be more appropriate to email you links and also contact mom, even if you two have ‘more in common.'”
“This is how these things always start…’innocent texts’ then phone calls, then meet ups, etc. She might not seem like it now, but she is trying to inch into your lives.”
“Your wife maybe didn’t need to call the school, but she was smart to nip it in the bud.”~sorrygirl818
“I’m going with a soft ESH. (Except your son.) The teacher for contacting only one parent about something involving their son and not send a message/ email to both parents. Issue avoided.”
“Your fiancée for instantly reporting the teacher instead of sitting down and having a conversation with the teacher and tell her she isn’t comfortable with this behavior.”
“But OP if you know this was an issue with your fiancée, you should’ve stepped up to the teacher and said it sooner that you’d prefer her to not just send messages to you.”
“And I find it odd that if your fiancée is feeling insecure, that you haven’t sat down and talked to her about it.”
“To me, it even sounds like you spoke with the teacher about the issue, but not your fiancée. Communication is key in any relationship, professional or not.”~Shifting2Wolf
The disparity in responses makes it difficult to find a true thread to grasp onto.
“ESH I am gonna be honest, if a teacher for our child was only texting my husband and asking about him and texting him on Christmas, I’d eventually start to feel uncomfortable about it.”
“It is weird to me, because I read in another comment that this is your fiancée’s child also, but reading the post I assumed it wasn’t.”
“It is strange, you’d think she’d message both of you, not specifically you, and then asking about you…I’m gonna say that I think the teacher might be crossing a line, but I don’t think it is at a point to report.”
“I would have sent her an email stating it felt uncomfortable and that if she wanted to address the parents she needs to address them both.”
“At the minimum it feels disrespectful to his Mom to only send you information that could help him. I don’t get that.”
“It takes 2 seconds to address it to both of you through text. It feels intentional to send it to only you and then also be asking your kid about you.”~simplysufficiant
“I know I might get downvoted for this but ESH.”
“I do think that a teacher encouraging their students to pursue interests is great and that teacher is probably a good teacher, however I would never text or allow a parent to text me as a teacher.”
“The only people who can ‘text’ teachers here are the students through a third party app. Email is a better way to CYA and it keeps things more formal.”
“I think your fiancée overreacted and should have given you the chance to stop things before reporting to the principal.”
“You are a bit a of an A for knowing that your fiancée is uncomfortable that your child’s teacher is texting and not stopping it earlier.”
“A teacher needs to keep things professional with a parent and it is on both of them to maintain that relationship.”~Luckythepunk
“ESH. Carrie is being unprofessional and engaging in behaviors that can land a teacher in serious hot water.”
“She should not be texting you, or blurring professional boundaries to be your friend, no matter how many interests you have in common.”
“She can be friendly up to a certain point, but never friends. Email is the proper channel for informing parents of things like competitions, no matter how much you prefer texting.”
“This is because Carrie needs to maintain records of all her communications with parents, usually for legal or documentation reasons, and needs to use a school device to do so, not a personal one.”
“Most likely, she will receive a warning and be retrained on the preferred method for communication.”
“You suck because you seem to be flirting with fire for the fun of it, and not caring about the effect it would have on your son, fiancee, and Carrie.”
“Your fiancee also seems to have brought this up multiple times, and you never applied the easy fix of updating your contact preferences, so both parents get CC’d on all emails, before now.”
“Your fiancee is being jealous/possessive. I can’t tell if she has reason to be so, or if she is inflating things.”
“It was a bit nuclear to jump straight to the principal, instead of asking Carrie directly to change her behavior first, which never earns you fans with teachers.”
“You can email the principal to say you never felt uncomfortable or like the behavior or content of the messages was unprofessional, but in light of your fiancees wishes, perhaps a more formal method of communication, with the mom CC’d on everything would be for the best.”
“Try not to paint your fiancee as crazy to throw her under the bus, because it won’t go well for you if she finds out.”~okay_sure_yeah
“I was going to say NTA but this many people in the world should not be so oblivious to other people disrespecting their SO’s boundaries.”
“This is very similar to how disrespectful it is when a person greets you but ignores your SO standing right next to you.”
“I also want to point out that this teacher must be magical because a lot of other teachers are struggling with their workload during this pandemic and some even chose early retirement because they couldn’t keep up.”
“Contact the school, tell them the situation, and stop acting like you and your future wife are not a unit or pair when it comes to your child.”
“Do you even follow through with these competitions? Is your son passionate about art to the point where he participates in all these opportunities the teacher provides?”
“If your son is interested in art in a casual or recreational way this seems very overboard and superfluous to entertain the teacher on sending you info every time she finds something.”~tooflyforyou
It’s a weird situation where nobody’s boundaries match each other, and all this likely lead to the misunderstanding in the first place.
Teachers are under a lot of scrutiny, so these conversations need to be had more openly. Hopefully this is the gateway to OP, fiancée, and teacher finally getting to that.