Teacher blames ‘roommate parenting’ for kids’ bad behaviour at school - but what is it?

Teachers say that parents seem to be becoming less involved in their children's lives

Bored parent not engaging with their daughter
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Teachers are blaming the rise of ‘roommate parenting’ for children's increasingly bad behaviour at school - but what is roommate parenting? 

From gentle parenting to authoritative parenting, the internet has popularised varying parenting styles that sit all over the spectrum. Each has its own benefits and downfalls, with many parents understanding and appreciating that it's an 'each to their own' type of situation. 

But one parenting style has increasingly come under fire for the bad behaviour it's inspiring in children. Dubbed 'roommate parenting' by one teacher describing the phenomenon online, this parenting style, or lack thereof, describes parents who only interact with their children at meal times or specific times like TV time, spending all their other time together sitting in different rooms and not speaking. 

Taking to Reddit, the teacher shared, "It’s time to trademark the label ‘roommate parenting.' This is my 11th year teaching, and I cannot believe the decline in quality, involved parents.

“This year, my team and I have coined the term ‘roommate parenting’ to describe this new wave of parents. It actually explains a lot."

He explained that this lax style of parenting manifests in a few specific ways, all of which are detrimental to a child's development. According to him, the first is that, "Kids and parents are in the house, but they only interact at meals, TV time, etc."

The second, he shares, is that "Parents (roommates) have no involvement with homework, academics," adding, "I never helped my roommate with his chemistry homework." 

For the third, he revealed that kids are having to take on more responsibility at home, causing their education to suffer. "Household responsibility and taking care of the kids aged four and below is shared," he said. "The number of kids I see taking care of kids is insane. The moment those young ones are old enough, they graduate from being 'taken care of' to 'taking care of'."

"Lastly," he added, "With parents shifting to the roommate role, teachers have become the new parents. Welcome to the new norm, it's going to be exhausting."

The teacher also revealed that parents seem to be annoyed when they get phone calls from the school complaining about their child's behaviour. "Getting a call from school or the teacher means immediate annoyance and response like it's a major inconvenience," he shared, comparing it to "Getting a call at two am that your roommate is trashed at the bar." 

With this increased responsibility at home and a lack of a close, personal bond with parents, kids' development, and therefore their behaviour, is suffering. But, as clinical psychologist Dr. Becca Ballinger told YourTango, it is surprisingly easy to fall into being your child's roommate with all the stresses of daily life - though getting back out of that situation is very important. 

"If you think you’ve slipped into the bad habit of being your child’s roommate instead of their parents, then the first step is to identify the behaviours that need to change. Next, create a consistent (and hopefully, daily) habit of interacting with your child,” she said. 

To help parents better connect with their children through interaction, we've rounded up the eight types of play your kid needs to support their development and shared 70 things to do with kids that'll keep them, and yourself, entertained on a budget. There are also loads of interesting conversation starters you can use to get talking to your kids from asking them why do pirates wear an eye patch and revealing the one 'clever' reason, to teaching them why birds sing in the morning

News writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is a news writer for Goodtoknow, specialising in family content. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.