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The Boston Globe



Being the big, bad parent

While saying no is necessary to both teaching and raising kids, don’t expect thanks for setting boundaries.

SOME YEARS AGO, I caught a high school senior in an act of blatant plagiarism that surprised me. The student was an English teacher’s dream — the kind of kid who, if you assigned Pride and Prejudice on a Tuesday, would turn up Wednesday reading a Jane Austen biography for fun. Yet her final paper was a sloppy mishmash of her own work with that of someone more famous. I still remember the dread I felt as I read it.

I had no choice but to report her and let the school’s disciplinary machinery go to work. But I felt uncomfortable playing Big, Bad Grown-Up at a time when I still felt very close, in age and mentality, to my teenage students.

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