Gransnet forums


How much interest did your parents take in your education?

(124 Posts)
biglouis Sat 01-Apr-23 12:40:07

I grew up in a part of Liverpool which we would probably now call "respectable" working class. People in the area had mainly manual jobs in factories. If you weorked in a shop or office you were "posh".

Back in the 1950s school was somewhere they HAD to send me so far as my parents were concerned. What happened to me there was of very little concern to them. My mother was a SAHM until I was 14 then she got a part time job to make ends meet. The main priority was to get me to leave school and get a job (any job) to conribute to the family budget. Like many men of his time my father did not approve of his wife working. He was supposed to be the "breadwinner".

Even when I was studying for GCE my parents took no interest in whether I did my homework or passed my exams. In fact if he saw me with books out my father used to tell me to put it away and go and help my mother in the kitchen. Thats how much book learning was valued in our house.

The only good thing that occurred so far as school was concerned was that my father taught me to box and hit back when I was being bullied by an older much bigger boy. I broke his nose and was never bullied in school again.

By contrast my grandmother asked all the questions you would expect a parent to ask. What lessons I had done, what marks I had got. Had I misbehaved?

Theexwife Sat 01-Apr-23 12:47:00

I started school in ‘63. My mother had no interest at all in what I was doing at school. She attended primary school parents' evenings because she would have been bothered by what the neighbours thought if she had not.

My father would occasionally ask about the content of the lessons I was doing at grammar school but did not encourage me to go to university or even to stay on past GCSEs, only saying that I must have a job if I was going to leave school.

All this is very different from how my daughter is with my grandson, she would be at university with him if she could.

Smileless2012 Sat 01-Apr-23 12:47:03

My parents took some interest but certainly now as much as we took in our boys, me in particular.

When I was studying for my O'levels, my parents were going through a very acrimonious divorce and it was my Uncle who really came through for me.

He told me I was clever and if I put in the work, I'd do well. He 'phoned me regularly to see how I was getting on with my revision and thanks to him I did very well; better than I expected.

Cabbie21 Sat 01-Apr-23 12:50:10

My parents had no exam qualifications themselves ( mum left school at 14) but were incredibly supportive. Mum used to test me on spellings and vocabulary for French, Latin and German, though she had no knowledge of any languages. My parents were both very intelligent but the opportunities were not there for them. They were not pushy, but certainly enabled me to make the most of my opportunities.

Baggs Sat 01-Apr-23 12:55:56

My parents, both teachers (and dad a teacher trainer) took a great deal of interest in our education but they did not ask questions. It was more about how useful education was as a good education teaches (well it should, I have my doubts about some so-called educational approaches nowadays) one how to think and that's what is important.

He used to say he didn't care what we did for a living so long as we could think. Currently I'm doing a part-time job that I'm vastly overqualified for but it's work that needs doing and work I can do (and I do it well). I'm a small part of an excellent team.

The photo of "Think" is above window in my kitchen, in memory of my dad.

Kate1949 Sat 01-Apr-23 13:02:04


BlueBelle Sat 01-Apr-23 13:07:20

My mum sent me to what she saw as the best school in our town it was a church school and you had to pay fees if you weren’t of that denomination so my mum secured herself a job at that school to get reduced fees My Dad worked hard and long hours and there weren’t the teacher/ pupil evenings like there are now but they both would help me with homework reading etc Dad was really good at maths which I never have been but he would help if I got in a muddle
Like you cabbie mum and dad had no qualifications but were intelligent but not highly educated people I think they actually had more intelligence than many students of today
They supported me in every way they could

Norah Sat 01-Apr-23 13:20:42


My mum sent me to what she saw as the best school in our town it was a church school and you had to pay fees if you weren’t of that denomination so my mum secured herself a job at that school to get reduced fees My Dad worked hard and long hours and there weren’t the teacher/ pupil evenings like there are now but they both would help me with homework reading etc Dad was really good at maths which I never have been but he would help if I got in a muddle
Like you cabbie mum and dad had no qualifications but were intelligent but not highly educated people I think they actually had more intelligence than many students of today
They supported me in every way they could

Much like my family.

My parents sent all of us to a fee based religious school at great expense for so many children. They studied with us, quizzed us, etc.

They were people of different times and felt uni was for males, females should marry and stay home.

I happily married at 16, have never worked outside our home.

tanith Sat 01-Apr-23 13:21:34

None whatsoever

grandtanteJE65 Sat 01-Apr-23 13:27:58

Well, my parents were the complete opposite to yours, biglouis, but looking back I hestitate greatly to say whether the one attitude is better than the other.

Until we were about 9, homework was supervised by my mother and done sitting at the dining room table while she cooked dinner. Later on, we did it on our own after dinner, but were encouraged to come and ask for help if we needed it.

Dinner table conversation on week-days included what we had done and learned at school that day.

I was encouraged to take music lessons and made to practise, my sister, who was not keen on music, had ice-skateing lessons,

She would certainly have been happier if less attention had been paid to her schooling, and over the moon with joy if she had been allowed to leave school at the earliest possible date and get a job.

I was naturally inclined to fall in with my parents' encouragement of academic brillance, but had to fight hard and long to be allowed to learn some practical skills, like cookery,

I doubt parents can ever get it right!

As a teacher, I have found that most parents have quite unrealistic views of their own children's skills, likes and dislikes, and that all too many are pushing children towards whatever it was they, the parents, either were not allowed to do, or the home could not afford to let them do, rather than what the children themselves would like to do.

Juliet27 Sat 01-Apr-23 13:30:14

Like your parents Cabbie mine left school at 14 but both had perfect spelling, grammar and maths. As I said on another thread, in those days the three Rs were all important.

Sidelined Sat 01-Apr-23 13:31:43

I’m sorry to say my parents had little education thanks to the disruption of the war so my dad never saw the need and didn’t show much interest. I had to go but what I did there or how well I did didn’t seem to matter. Mum had got a place at grammar school but couldn’t go. So rather than encourage me she seemed, in hindsight, determined that I didn’t outshine her and insisted I left school at 15 without taking any exams. Years later I got a degree but will always remember the stinging comment ‘bet you think you’re better than us!’

Caleo Sat 01-Apr-23 13:35:22

BigLouis, I smiled at your phrase "respectable working class". Until recently I used this phrase to describe my own parents. My very clever, history master, older brother introduced me to the phrase and idea.

Then a few months ago my son blew away the very idea of 'respectable working class' which he says is a phrase intentionally loaded with the image of productive workers in the interest of capitalist industry on the one hand, and 'scroungers' on the other hand. It's a phrase that patronises workers who are required to know their place.

My parents did know their place in the social hierarchy and were not socialists not really but had the typically Scottish healthy respect for education

maryrose54 Sat 01-Apr-23 13:49:13

My mother was only interested in whether I got top marks. I don't remember her asking about the subjects. If my homework wasn't set out neatly and tidily, she would tear the page out and make me redo it. I never felt that I was good enough. She left home before I finished my O levels, getting good grades in 8 subjects.

annsixty Sat 01-Apr-23 13:54:32

My Father died when I was11.
I had started at the Grammar School just 4 months before, the best thing that happened to me.
My Mother was too busy keeping a roof over our heads and food on the table to worry about what I was doing at school.
This was in 1948.
I didn’t work hard and consequently didn’t exactly shine in what was then GCE’s.
However I did well enough to get a job which required a decent education and included 2full days in college for two years.
That was when I started to realise and did very well at the end exams and was offered a job straight away.
I tried to pass on that insight to my two children,
One took it to heart and went to university and has done well.
One didn’t but it wasn’t for want of parental advice and encouragement.

MrsKen33 Sat 01-Apr-23 13:54:55

A lot. I was expected to pass the 11+ and thank goodness I did. I went to Art school when I was sixteen , after passing 9 O levels, but they were not interested in that , only that I should do well. I always felt, my mother especially , was breathing down my neck……Failure was not allowed or anticipated.

Grandma70s Sat 01-Apr-23 13:55:08

My parents were both university graduates, so they were passionately interested in education. My brother and I were both sent to the best available local schools and very much encouraged to go to into higher education. I had to do entrance exams for scholarships to boarding schools in case I didn’t get into the local academic schools.. They would not have allowed us to go to secondary moderns.

My mother had valued her university days very much - it was a while before I realised that it was really unusual for a woman to go to university in the 1920s, as she did, I just took it all for granted.

We also had piano lessons, and I did ballet as well. We were both useless at the piano, but I was reasonably good at ballet and adored it. It all counted as education..

Blondiescot Sat 01-Apr-23 13:55:12

I was always encouraged to learn, but as an only child I never had my nose out of a book anyway. As I progressed through school, my mother in particular put a lot of pressure on me to behave and do well, in order not to "show her up" as she put it. Luckily I was very academically minded anyway, but no matter how hard I tried or how well I did, it was never enough for her. I passed all my exams with flying colours and my teachers were encouraging me to go to university (which I think my father would have loved), but my mother took me aside and told me we couldn't afford it and I was not to even think about applying as the stress of funding it would kill my father. I later found out this was a complete lie on her part. I've no idea why she didn't want me to go, as she loved to tell me when she'd heard about classmates who were doing well at uni. Instead, I went to college and pursued my career that way instead.

kircubbin2000 Sat 01-Apr-23 13:57:03

My mother thought being clever and top of the class was the most important thing.She presumed I wasn't and her cousin ,who was a uni lecturer I had never met, looked at my grades and told her I would never make it at uni so I didn't go.

AGAA4 Sat 01-Apr-23 14:04:13

My dad was always interested in our education. He was clever and was brought up in a very poor family. At age 11 he won a paid for scholarship to the best boys school in the area and did well.
My mum didn't think I needed much education as she thought I would just end up as wife and mother so I'm glad my dad encouraged me or I may not have bothered as much at school.

Auntieflo Sat 01-Apr-23 14:13:47

My parents were quietly interested in my brother's and my education. We both passed the 11+ exams, but I think that brought a strain on the family finances for the uniform costs.
Mum could have gone to The Slade school of Art, but was not allowed by her father, saying she didn't have good enough health. Dad could have gone to Oxford Uni, but had to leave school and get a job to help the family. He became a clever engineer, and was good at maths , which I wasn't. My brother did 'get' maths. So I think on the whole, they were proud of us getting to grammar schools.

Ohmother Sat 01-Apr-23 14:19:12

My parents didn’t seem to worry or indeed have a clue about the system. There was a lot of stress in my big family so we were more or less left to sort ourselves out. I was asked by a teacher why I wasn’t going on to grammar school. I didn’t have a clue how you went about it so I just told her I wasn’t bothered. I think I would have done well at a grammar school but I’ve enjoyed the jobs I’ve had in life. I have the chance to earn the most per hour in my current job but money doesn’t drive me so I’m lucky enough to be able to do what I enjoy.

Ohmother Sat 01-Apr-23 14:21:31

Paul Abbot’s (Shameless writer) life story is an example of a teacher taking him under their wing and beginning his success story.

Caleo Sat 01-Apr-23 14:23:53

Blondiescot, in view of your personal experiences do you support free tertiary education for all?

biglouis Sat 01-Apr-23 14:26:09

When I wanted to study to become a qualified librarian I tried explaining to my parents that when I was qualified I would obviously earn a great deal more. My father's response was:-

"Whats to good of eductaing a girl. Your only going to get married and have babies."

That was what my father thought women were for. Needless to say we never did agree.

My grandmother would have likd me to go to university but dared not interfere in my upbringing. The best she could do was to encourage me from the sidelines. She did help me out financially when I eventually persuaded my parents to allow me to attend a part time "sandwich course". In those days the age of consent was 21 so you needed your parents consent to apply for an LEA grant or to attend a course.

Much later, when I was considering stepping off the librarianship ladder for 3 years to do a degree, we had a long talk. She listened to what was a pretty drastic proposal (returning to education in my early 40s) and offered to help me financially. I told her that when I graduated I wanted her sitting on the front row to see it.

She died 8 weeks later. I applied to UCAS the following year and received offers from all 5 universities on my list. I got an unconditional offer from my first choice (Manchester).

My parents did not come to my graduation (they had booked a holiday) so I gave my tickets to a friend. Somehow I know my grandmother was watching. I felt her spirit.