Teachers Are Opening Up About The Most Difficult Parents They've Ever Dealt With, And I Don't Know How They Do It

We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community who work as teachers to tell us about their worst encounters with parents. Unsurprisingly, the stories were completely infuriating. Here's what people shared:

1."A student attempted to push me down the stairs. I grabbed the railing and tweaked my wrist while preventing my fall. I had to get an X-ray. The student was suspended. The parents ignored the suspension and sent the child (eighth grade) to school the next day. They refused to come get him, so he spent the day in the office. The next day, I was told to keep my distance from the student and always have a clear path to the door to escape if he came at me again. The parents refused to believe this wasn't an accident and questioned what I saw and heard him say to his friends as he pushed me."


2."Office staff here. I had an angry parent call 911 on me because I would not let her into the building. She called yelling at me because her son, who was NOT a student at my school, was told to leave the school grounds. I explained that he was asked to leave because he wasn't enrolled at our school, and she started yelling, so I hung up. She then came to school threateningly, and I wouldn't let her in the building. She called 911 so the police would come and make me let her in so she could scream at me. They, of course, said, 'Sorry, you're not getting in. The staff did the right thing by protecting themselves and the students.' I was hoping they would cite her for unlawful use of 911, but they didn't."

—Kathy B., Facebook

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3."I teach high school math. I once had a grandmother chase me down the hallway after school because I did not have a grade in the grade book for a quiz I gave out THAT MORNING! She expected me to get everything graded while teaching and planning all day. She threatened to go talk to the principal about this."


4."A student attempted to steal another student's brand-new iPhone. The sticky-fingered student took it from a locker and put it in her backpack; video footage supported this. Her parent went ballistic afterward, not because her sticky-fingered daughter stole the phone. Nope, she was irate because her sticky-fingered daughter was 'soooo traumatized' by staff members who retrieved the phone that wasn't hers to begin with. According to mom, Sticky Fingers did not feel safe. Her mom threatened to sue. Nothing was done about the theft, and the aforementioned sticky-fingered student was allowed to return to the school. I. Was. Done."


Close-up image of an adult's hands using a smartphone, tapping and scrolling on the screen
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5."In my first year of teaching, I had a student who constantly harassed other students verbally and even physically. For the sake of other students' safety and ability to focus, I tried having her sit separately while all the other students worked in groups (art class). The mom came storming in, informed me her daughter had to be seated with her 'friends' (who did not want to sit with her), and then said I hated kids and was only doing this for the money. I thought of my former classmates at my Ivy League school who were making the big bucks while I was teaching in a Title 1 school for a pittance. I managed not to laugh in her face."


6."Preschool teacher here. A parent showed up 30 minutes after closing to get his child and didn't apologize for being so late, but rather, he said, 'I have a real job, and real jobs sometimes run late.'"


Wall clock with black numbers and hands showing 10:10
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7."First year teaching. First day of parent conferences ever. A parent screamed at me that I hated their child, and when I showed them a book at the level the kids were expected to be reading at, the mom picked it up and threw it across the table at me. I have been very fortunate with parents since then, but I'll never forget how small that mother made me feel as a brand-new teacher just trying my best."


8."A parent told me she would punch anyone who corrected her daughter in the face, all in front of the silent principal. Obviously, the child had issues following basic instructions and rules."


Man in an office sitting at a desk, focused on reading a book. Shelves with books and files are in the background
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9."I worked in the special needs department of a high school. At this school, there was an entrance only for our students, and a mom insisted she was allowed to use it, too. She wasn't. ALL guests (whether you're a parent or not) must go through the main office and get a badge. My boss then told this mom that she had to go to the front, and she said, 'No, I don't. My son comes through here, so I can, too. I'll be, like, three minutes, anyway. I'm just picking him up.' My boss stood her ground and said, 'No, I understand the confusion here, and I know you're only going to be here for a few minutes, but there are safety protocols, and I need you to check in at the front. Please.'"

"The mom slapped my boss across the face and said, 'No, I'm' going to get my son.' And she did. I want to clarify that the student being picked up was okay. He was not leaving early because he was sick or anything. We all told my boss to sue her or something for her doing that. My boss feared causing drama because they went to the same church."


10."I'm a librarian at an elementary school, not a teacher. I've had some REALLY annoying parent experiences, but this one takes the cake. Two years ago, this mom tried to ban a quarter of the books in the library. That's not an exaggeration. Literally a QUARTER. Almost all of those books were about POC and/or LGBTQ+ people. She failed partly because it's a pretty progressive district (and partly because no one wanted us to lose a quarter of the library). But still. Jesus."


A library aisle with neatly arranged books on shelves labeled with letters and sections, leading to a brightly lit seating area in the background
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11."English teacher here. I had this girl in my class who (on the second day of class) would not pay any attention and would constantly talk to her friend. I politely asked her multiple times to pay attention and answer the easy question she was asked (or at least try to); she just sat there and glared at me silently. The next day, I had a phone call from the mother: 'My little girl told me what you did in class yesterday!' 'So what did I do?' 'You yelled at her! She came home in tears because you bullied her because she didn't know the answer to a hard question!' 'No, I didn't. I was just asking her to pay attention and try to answer!' 'NOOO, my little girl would never lie to me! You BULLIED my poor little girl!'"

"The girl and her friend had thought of telling her mother that lie to avoid having to come to my class (it was during the summer). I asked the other students in my class if I had been too harsh or cruel with her, and they all denied it. But, this mother kept saying how I bullied her POOR LITTLE GIRL. Poor, poor baby girl. The girl was 15!!!!!"


12."I moved to a new state after six years as an elementary school principal. I'm a big believer in contacting parents. On the first day of the new job, I called the parent of a misbehaving child. I had just introduced myself when the parent interrupted and said, 'Mr. Principal, let me stop you right there. I have to put up with him for 15 hours a day. When he's there, he's your problem.'"


Teacher in a cozy classroom, appearing surprised or concerned, with hands raised in a stopping motion in front of a blackboard with math equations
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13."I'm no longer teaching, but my worst parent encounter was with a mom whose kid had called me slurs multiple times. Unfortunately, it became pretty clear that the student was just parroting the language the mom used to refer to me. She said outright that she wasn't mad the student had called me slurs; she was mad that the student had called me slurs *at school.* Classy."


14."I had a prim and proper parent (who is also a teacher) walk into a parent-teacher conference, dressed to the nines, take out our district policy, and hand me a highlighted chunk where she claimed I was violating said policy — all because her son wasn't getting an A. Thankfully, I had admin sit in on this conversation. We just rolled our eyes as she walked away. After her son, a really sweet kid, earned an A (to his credit), my principal and I didn't hear a peep."


A woman, partially hidden behind several open binders and stacks of papers on a desk, appears overwhelmed
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15."As a high school drawing teacher, I believed a student had traced a picture. But I knew how the game was played and gave her a low A. My mistake was questioning the student. A few days later, her father showed up and spent over an hour of my time trying to convince me that she didn’t trace it. I asked him what he wanted me to do. Was I supposed to raise her grade? No, he said, 'I want you to believe that she didn’t trace it.'"


16."I taught high school math. I had a student in the back of the classroom who was very distracting to others. I moved her to the front for the remainder of that class period so everyone could pay attention better. I received an email from her mother scolding me for moving her to the front, saying she should be allowed to sit wherever she wanted."


A teacher assists a young girl who appears to be struggling with a math test at her desk in a classroom filled with other working students
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17."Parents who are in denial will waste your time and ruin your sanity. I have worked in special education. Parents stress teachers tremendously because we cannot cure or fix their children. Some principals and administrators think teachers can bridge all these gaps. COVID brought more problems and changes. Technology and 24-hour access have ruined education. Parents think you should cater to their needs. Sometimes, it has nothing to do with the children. You are never rewarded for being an expert in your field. Administrators just use you to meet their needs. The only people who suffer are teachers and students. Education sucks. It is getting worse. Kids are probably less educated and morally blocked."


18."I was teaching wood shop, and I caught a student chasing other students with a stick and poking them. I had a conference about the incident with the student's father, the principal, and the student. The student told us that he found the stick and was showing it to other students. His father turned to me and said, 'See? He was doing you a favor and should be commended for it.' This is the same student who complained about reading the safety procedures for the woodworking machines and said out loud in class, 'How do you expect us to learn anything if you keep making us read?'"


A group of adults and teenagers gather around a woodworking table, attentively watching a demonstration in a bright, modern workshop
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19."I teach high school math. During a parent-teacher conference, a mother came in heated. I asked her if there was anything she wanted to discuss since I knew she had something on her mind. She said she was mad I didn't respond to her email about her son. I apologized and replied that I didn't remember seeing the email come through. She whipped her phone out to prove me wrong. When she found the email, she started yelling at her son. He had told her a different teacher's name, so I did not receive the email. They left without an apology."


20."I had a fourth-grade student constantly getting in verbal fights with other students. I had spoken to the mom about it multiple times with little success. One day, a fight turned physical (we broke it up). I called the mom for a meeting to tell her, and she told me, verbatim, 'I don't know what the goal is, but I don't want to hear any more about my child getting into fights. You expect me to talk to them about it, and it's ruining my relationship with them.' LADY, IT'S YOUR CHILD. Policy is that I have to tell you, and you should want to know. This was one of the incidents that pushed me to leave the job. PS: Pay teachers more, please."


Teacher looks stressed while children play energetically in a classroom
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21."I teach English as a second language to 16-year-old students who have had to take English as a second language class since they were 6. One day, a mom called and ripped me a new one for speaking English to her daughter during class. The number of times I've had to justify speaking English in my English class over my 24 years of teaching is just unreal. I even had to convince a school principal once and had to defend giving a failing grade to a student who didn't write their finals in English because it wasn't specified the end-of-year essay of the English class had to be written in English."


22."My students are all made aware that we do not plagiarize others' work, famous or not, in art. I had a student copy another's design almost completely. The student in question added one very small change, but the rest was exactly like another student's design that had been turned in. When the copied piece was turned in, I gave it a 0 for plagiarism. The student's parents requested a meeting with the principal and me, and then they proceeded to defend their child's work, saying that the one small element made it a totally different piece. The father went on to say that in the college he taught at, he let his students copy a little. I also teach at the college level, and in my school, we do not allow plagiarism, period. So disappointing the example these parents set for their child."


Mason jars filled with various art supplies like pencils, paintbrushes, and markers on a table; orange scissors are seen in the foreground
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23."I once had a parent tell me I had given her son, formerly a straight-A student, a B because I didn't like her!"


24."There was a mother who kept emailing me about every little point I deducted on her 10th-grade son's' schoolwork, asking me to explain why it was wrong. One day, I overheard the kid tell his friend that his mom did all his homework."


Man with glasses looks stressed, holding his forehead while looking at a laptop screen
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25."Our school got the wonderful opportunity to host the winner of the best high school mariachi band contest, as they were coming to our town for a concert. A student's father called asking if it was true and asking if it was mandatory. I said yes, all assemblies were mandatory at our middle school. He screamed at me, saying his daughter would never be forced to listen to 'Mexican music' and have 'Mexican culture shoved down her throat.' I told him he was being inappropriate and said he should talk to the principal. The principal had been excited to have the whole school hear the mariachi band, but whatever that dad said to her got that one child out of the assembly. I left teaching about 18 months after that happened. Parents are the worst part about teaching."


26."I taught preschool. I had a parent email me saying I was deliberately excluding their child from activities outside of school. Apparently, one of my students was having a birthday party, and the parent of the birthday girl had given my director the invitation email to send to the class (my director did not want teachers handing out invites). My director had accidentally misspelled one of the moms' email addresses, and they didn't know about the party until another parent spoke about it after it happened. I was ripped a new one via email from this parent, with my director CC'ed on it, telling me I must have an issue with the child because I was deliberately excluding them and how awful of a person I am because I was cruel to children."

"My director wrote back, admitting it was her fault. The parent just said, 'Oh, okay,' and that was the end of it. I never got an apology, and the parent avoided me for the rest of the time their child was in my class."


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27."Oh boy. When I taught sixth grade, a student constantly lied to adults about her actions. She'd start fights and then claim it was others, accuse me of racism all the time, etc. One day after school, her mother phoned me, threatening to come to the school with police officers because her daughter had been ganged up on and hit by other students that day, and I 'did nothing to protect her.' In reality, she had started severely beating on another boy in my class — a boy who had PTSD from growing up in a war-torn country. The boy had bruises all over his back from her. This mother didn't even care when I explained what happened. It was a very difficult battle all year. As a teacher, you will never get an apology or closure from those parents, even though you go through hell and try your best for their kids."


28."I had a parent trick me into sending lessons home for a month because her daughter was too ill to get out of bed, much less attend school. Surprise, surprise, I saw the kid at the pep rally doing cartwheels and really shaking it on the dance team. Turns out she had been attending daily dance practice for the entire month."


Open schoolbooks, notebooks, and binders scattered on a desk with pencils
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29."I once had a parent ask me to teach in a substantially different way so I'd match her high school daughter's preferences. Her daughter had a 20% attendance rate. I was like,' 'Madam, how will she know?'"


30."I caught a student with an 8.5x11 typed 'cheat sheet' during a test. His father said it couldn't have happened because his son's test scores were 'always so good,' he didn't need to cheat. So, therefore, he didn't."


Papers with handwritten math equations and drawings, surrounded by various stationery items like pens, scissors, and a compass, placed on a desk
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31."I had a student who, by the time he came to my school, was on his third school after being kicked out of the previous two. This kid was HELL ON EARTH, and his mom knew, AND she knew enough of school law and politics not to have him removed from this school. He terrorized the admins, other teachers, and myself all year, and the most we could do was send him to ISS. Anytime we scheduled a parent conference, his parents would never show, and whenever he was suspended, his mom would fight it until the suspension was reversed."


32."I teach preschool and am so happy to finally be at a school where the owners and director put their teachers first. I had a parent a couple of weeks ago throw a giant tantrum over something small. On her way to pick up her sick child, she called my director and said all kinds of horrible things to her. Then she came in and was rude to me in front of my class. The owner immediately emailed her an official letter of childcare termination."


A woman with long, blond hair, wearing a plain white shirt, stands confidently with folded arms in a colorful classroom
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33."I had a parent file a false police report claiming I physically assaulted her child. The child refused to go into the classroom and spent all day, every day, running around the playground and the parking lot. I was on the 'safety team' and would monitor the child, typically from a distance, to ensure they did not hurt themselves. Although I am trained and certified to restrain children who are a harm to themselves or others, I never attempted to touch or restrain this child because they weren't hurting anyone, just refusing to participate in their education. Some parents are in such deep denial about the needs of their child that they resort to outrageous accusations without a second thought."


34.And: "I used to be a preschool teacher. Parents' behavior is one of the things that made me decide to leave the job, amongst other things, like the low pay for a job that, in my country, requires a four-year degree. The moment I knew I was done was during a parent-teacher conference. Both the mom and dad came, which I always appreciate. Their child was a mediocre student who needed a bit of extra stimulation in preschool math. Nothing outlandish. I had prepared some homework for them to help their child. Easy. Their attitude changed when I explained what their son needed to prepare for the tests. The mom looked at the dad. The father cleared his throat, stood up, raised his voice like a boss would to his employees, and said: 'Listen, my wife and I both have a university degree. And you? You're a teacher. Hahaha. So, please DO NOT tell us what to do with OUR CHILD!' I have never felt so humiliated."


Teachers, I'm so, so sorry. If you work in education and have a parent horror story you'd like to share, please tell us in the comments or submit anonymously using this form.

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.