Monster Parents

I was working on a translation job of a Japanese high-school drama scheduled to go on air next month in Japan and recalled a number of incidences I saw about what the Japanese call Monpa (short for Monster Parents).

For the unfamiliar, Monpas are parents who create havoc in the school, giving trouble to teachers by making unreasonable demands and either not give them enough authority to help discipline their children or give them entire responsibility in educating their off-springs.

In a scene of the drama’s trailers, a statement appears saying that the drama is made for adults. Not as in pornography, but for them to understand the problems and difficulties teachers face.

Back when I was teaching at schools in Aichi, I witnessed a couple of cases of Monpas. Although in one case, I wouldn’t call the parent a Monpa when the rest of the teachers called the mother that in the staff room. What happened was, the kid had been attending English classes since he was little, so it is only understandable that his level of English is better than most of his peers. During a test, a fill-in-the-blanks question went something like:

Koji _________ to school already.

While the correct answer in the teacher’s booklet was “went,” the student wrote “has gone” and the teacher marked him wrong. Seeing that, the mother was furious and went to school to get his son’s points back. The English teacher came to me and asked me if his answer was correct and I said yes. She seemed slightly disappointed that the mother was right and went back into the principal’s office to explain to the mother that he was marked incorrect because the class hadn’t learned that yet. But the mother insisted, how can you mark a right answer incorrect just because the class doesn’t know it? I agree with the mother because a right answer is a right answer; just because the rest of the world doesn’t know gravity exists doesn’t make Newton wrong. Unless the question specifically asked them to fill in the Past Tense.

Back to the drama, I think it is an appropriate show that should broadcast on free-to-air TV in Singapore as well. We’ve all seen a lot of dramas about horrible parents treating teachers badly and shake our heads at it. But when most of my friends my age are parents now, I’ve seen disappointing behaviors by some who used to cringe at Monpas.

Some time ago, a friend Y posted on Facebook a picture of her kids playing with their toys past 10 pm and said they refused to keep their toys and go to bed. Her friend commented saying she faces the same problems with her kids and asked how Y solved the issue. Y proudly announced that her solution to that was, she called her daughter’s teacher and asked her to tell her daughter to keep her toys and go to bed.

That worked.

But I’m not sure if she realized what she did. She called a teacher past 10 pm at night when the working hours are over; when it should be the teacher’s time and right to rest and relax; to have fun and have a private life. She asked the teacher to tell her daughter to keep her toys and go to bed; a non-family member to tell her daughter to be obedient. By doing that, she has given up all authority on her kids and, as much as this is a strong word, failed as a parent.

But seeing things like that happening means, even though I’m shaking my head at it now, I could very possibly become one of them should I have children of my own. Friends like this help remind me I should keep myself in check as well. That is IF I have kids of my own.


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