My 5-year-old son had been coming home for several days (eight at that point) in distress because one political candidate was "evil" and the other was "good". The views he was embracing did not match those of my family and the best word I am able to come up with is that he was in "distress". He couldn't figure out how to handle two such different belief systems. My son's distress has been showing as crying fits, dropping to the ground when discussions about candidates are discussed. He is truly in anguish at times. We have had several conversations with my son over accepting different beliefs and finding the good in everyone ... and believe we are on the right track with him.

I called the principal of my son's school to schedule an appointment because of "some issues that have come up since the election." Later, I learned that she went straight to the teacher and had the teacher contact us. My son specifically told us it was his teacher telling him who was "evil" and who was "good". I do realize that he is five (5) and this may be unreliable information, but it was the teacher we were worried about when calling the principal. My bigger concern is that we have a principal that went to the teacher, who may have been doing something inappropriate / wrong, and that now she knows who it was that turned her in (my son). By the way, I did have to call back in to actually get an appointment with the principal (she never contacted us).

I was a teacher for over a decade, my wife is a teacher, and my mother has been in education for over 40 years. This was all thoroughly discussed before approaching anyone. To this point, none of us have had to "pull out the education card." At no point has anyone at the school claimed to know any more than we do ... the conversations have been good and hopefully beneficial to my son.

What to do after the principal broke our confidence and told the teacher who turned her in?

  • 3
    Did you try to discuss the issue with the teacher yourself before contacting the principal?
    – Acire
    Nov 24, 2016 at 15:07
  • 1
    I did not, because as this progressed, the teacher was the one my son was supposedly parroting. Knowing what I do of her now, I may have contacted her first. At the time, all I knew was my son was in distress and she was the one he was consistently naming. I was hoping to speak with the principal in confidence, hoping she could speak with the teacher without causing more hardship with my son if things went wrong.
    – rfornal
    Nov 24, 2016 at 19:09
  • 3
    This may sound a bit off, but maybe you should tell them that there's no such thing as a good politician.
    – Bradman175
    Dec 10, 2016 at 6:30
  • This is not directly about the question you asked, but the teacher should have known that a 5 year old will see moral questions as having defined and absolute answers, and hence be unable to handle moral disagreements between adults. This situation was therefore perfectly foreseeable and the teacher was wrong to create it. Sep 27, 2019 at 15:50

1 Answer 1


I am a retired teacher, so you should know that before you read my answer.

  1. I think a parent should always go to the teacher first with a concern. If you think it is truly serious -- then ask for a meeting with the teacher and with the Admin sitting in.
  2. Your Admin sounds like an asshat to me. If you ask something in confidence, it should remain confidential. The Admin could have said 'no' for example, without disclosing what you asked to have confidential.
  3. I'd ask the Admin why s/he broke my confidence. However, just because someone is supposed to act like an adult, it doesn't mean they won't act badly towards you in the future. You have to weigh the consequences. I had a co-teacher be dressed-down by a parent and that teacher told me that the kid would 'pay'. I reported that one, but most situations don't have a co-teacher to make sure things are above board.
  • I was a teacher, as well. But, in this case I had my parent hat on. Something odd was going on and she was the one my son named consistently. I was hoping the conversation with the principal could put a level of protection in place for my son. The breach of confidence actually shook me up a bit. I have been a bit stressed about this, thinking maybe I should do more. At this point in time, the teacher and principal are on the same page we are and they have gotten the counselor involved ... we'll see how it progresses at this point.
    – rfornal
    Nov 24, 2016 at 19:13
  • 3
    I certainly would not trust your Admin to keep any confidence in the future, that boat has sailed. I understand the us/them of this current political climate, but five year olds should not be getting political opinion at school. While I do not suggest pitting your child against his teacher, you can say that different people react differently but that "we think this is the way to think about it...".
    – WRX
    Nov 24, 2016 at 19:23
  • I would disagree with your first point. If the story of the OP is correct, the teacher in question is ether misbehaving on purpose or completely incompetent. In both cases, contacting this teacher is a huge risk and absolute unlikely to work. If a teacher fails that massive with the absolute basics of teaching, the admin needs to be addressed directly.
    – Etaila
    Dec 12, 2016 at 11:27
  • 2
    @Etaila -- we'll have to disagree. IMO, adults don't hide when they have a complaint. Adults have no need to talk behind another adult's back -- we say what we have to say. If we would not complain to the person, it says something about us. I can tell you that if a parent wanted to talk to me WITH my Admin, I'd be listening very carefully. In truth, I always listened when a parent had a comment, fair or not. They have every right to say how their child is treated. If we disagree, the Admin would act as arbiter. We agree that the teacher and the admin were wrong to act as they did.
    – WRX
    Dec 12, 2016 at 13:07
  • 1
    @WillowRex Normally yes, it is better to talk to the teacher before making a bigger deal out of it. But this is not a normal case. A teacher that is defining his own opinion as a fact in such a clearly opinion based case, isn't excusable. A teacher like this should immediately be suspended, and never be allowed in any kind of school again. The damage this teacher is causing with such behaviour isn't excusable and even worse, this teacher is very likely to repeat this behaviour in other areas.
    – Etaila
    Dec 12, 2016 at 13:14

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