My worst parent - Grieving mum left us stunned

26th March 2010 at 00:00

We were working in pairs at a Year 13 parents' evening and my colleague Jane and I had had quite a pleasant time. We had known many of the parents for years and the students, on the whole, had been doing well. Jane Fairchild's husband worked at the local hospital and some of the parents were his colleagues.

But we knew that the next appointment would be more difficult. Emily Jones's father had died recently and school work had inevitably taken a back seat. Mrs Jones strode in, plonked herself on to a chair and glared at Jane.

I began by offering my condolences and moved on to talk about how Emily had been getting along at school, although Mrs Jones never once looked at me. Her gaze remained fixed on Jane and became steadily more resentful and bitter.

She was a thick-set woman with dark rings around her eyes and her lips were set in a thin, unsmiling line. Suddenly, she leaned forward in her chair and hissed at Jane: "My family has nothing to thank your husband for, Mrs Fairchild!"

Jane's face went white as she recoiled and dropped her pen. "That's nothing to do with me!" she said, shocked and horrified.

I found myself leaning forward, and continued to talk about Emily - what she needed to do and how we could help her - but nobody was listening to me. The other two seemed to be trying to stare each other out.

After a few minutes, Mrs Jones got up and walked away, leaving us both almost in tears. Shaking, we composed our faces and smiled to greet the next parent.

I will never understand what went on. Mr Jones was an alcoholic who died of liver failure and Mr Fairchild was a paediatrician.

Names have been changed. The writer is an English teacher in Suffolk. Send your worst parent stories to and you could earn #163;50 in MS vouchers.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today