a young girls reads an inspiring school bulletin board

Are All PTA Moms Jerks?


Christine Coughlin


Curious Living, Motherhood

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I have a secret. Not a well-kept secret, but it’s something I usually keep to myself. I’m a P.T.A. mom, and it’s something I dreamt of becoming long before I had kids.  

I once told an ex-boyfriend that I couldn’t make a sexy video with him because it might ruin my chance to be PTA president.

Seriously, I said that. I think I was 25, which makes it even more ridiculous. The point is I knew without a doubt I’d be on the P.T.A.

christine coughlin sitting on a coffee table smiling

What is a P.T.A. Mom?

If you are new to the planet, you may be wondering what a P.T.A. Mom is exactly. It stands for Parent-Teacher Association, and it’s a national organization that promotes parent involvement in education in the United States.

What is a P.A.C. Mom?

In Canada, they are called P.A.C. Moms, which stands for Parent Advisory Council. P.A.C. is the officially recognized collective voice of parents that provides feedback in the school system.

Let’s Get Clear Here

For the purposes of this article, I will simply call them P.T.A. moms, but let’s get one thing clear.

No matter what you call them, P.T.A. moms and P.A.C. moms are a free workforce in the school system that help raise funds for equipment, activities and supplies that you would assume the government covers but surprisingly doesn’t.

Reality Bites

Imagine my surprise, when my daughter started kindergarten, and I happily took my seat at the P.T.A. meetings. It didn’t take long to realize the general consensus in the “mom world” was that P.T.A. moms are a giant pain in the ass and ones to be avoided. Even close friends whom I respected were buying into the P.T.A. mom stereotype.  

The P.T.A. Mom Stereotype

I’ve seen the movies. I get it. Overbearing moms who control the fate of everyone’s kids and make other parents feel like shit for not helping out but come on… Isn’t that just drama for the sake of drama? Apparently not.

According to the movies, you know you’re dealing with a P.T.A. mom when you see her driving a minivan with a “Proud P.T.A. Mom” sticker on the back. She’s probably wearing a sweater with the school’s mascot on it and carrying a clipboard filled with to-do lists and volunteer sign-up sheets.

The P.T.A. Mom Stereotype Check List

Let’s break down the P.T.A. mom stereotype a little further, shall we?

  • P.T.A. moms take their roles VERY seriously.
  • P.T.A. moms attend every meeting, no matter how boring, and always have something to say.
  • P.T.A. moms suggest crazy fundraising ideas like “Dunk the Principal” or “Pajama Day”
  • P.T.A. moms proceed to recruit every parent in a five-mile radius to help make the “magic” happen.
  • P.T.A. moms look at you sideways if you bring store-bought goodies to a bakesale or class party.
    • Don’t even get them started on gluten or refined sugars! How could you, they thought you loved your children!?
  • P.T.A. moms talk behind your back if you are a working parent.
  • P.T.A. moms think you are lazy if you don’t volunteer all your spare minutes.
  • P.T.A. moms think their kids are perfect and yours are savage beasts.
  • P.T.A. moms know which day the library books have to be returned, and all the hot lunch dates and have signed up to drive for every school field trip EVER.

With all of these stereotypes floating around of course parents are intimidated by anyone who steps foot inside a P.T.A. meeting. I mean the number one job of a P.T.A. mom is to recruit and shame isn’t it?

a young girls reads an inspiring school bulletin board

Why being a P.T.A. mom works for me.

Education is Everything

Volunteering in the school shows my kids that their education is a priority, one in that I will invest my time in.

Social Connections

We moved to a new community when I was pregnant with my third kid. As a pregnant stay-at-home mom with a two-year-old, my social calendar consisted of grocery shopping, playgroups and nap times. Basically, I was bored out of my mind and desperate for adult connections. Helping at the school was often my social event of the week.

Influence Your Kid’s School Environment

After seeing an inspirational bulletin board on Facebook, my friend Sarah and I decided to offer our slightly compulsive crafty brains to help beautify the school and inject some inspirational messages we wanted our kids to be exposed to. We approached the staff, and they were more than happy to take “decorate bulletin board” off their to-do lists.

For another inspirational bulletin board idea click here.

A school bulletin board, that says "meet the person responsible for your..." attitude, choices, effort, words, actions. A mirror hangs over each word.
D.I.Y. Inspirational School Bulletin Board: Created by Sarah Houchen & Christine Coughlin

Hero Status 

My kids light up when they see me in the halls. Their friends love seeing me in school. They all say “Hi” I get all the high beam smiles. It’s very likely that soon my kids will be embarrassed to have me around, but that isn’t today, so I’m milking it while I can. 

Be a Fly on the Wall

I pick jobs that get me into the class’s rooms. This allows me to scope out the teachers and get a good feel for what the kids are experiencing during the day. 

Build Confidence in Younger Kids

My younger kids come along when I’m volunteering at the school. They benefit from wandering the halls as toddlers, getting to know some of the staff and understanding the lay of the land. Then when they start school, the transition isn’t as scary.

Get My Voice Heard. 

I’ve built relationships with the others at the table by showing up regularly. I get to vote on the issues, and say how the money gets spent and when problems arise with my kids, we aren’t starting at square one in our relationship.

Utilize Career Skills

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for eight years. Volunteering allows me to use my past-life business skills. It’s forced me to get back on my computer for more than looking at photos of my kids. I’ve designed posters, run social media pages, helped with event planning, created spreadsheets, and bulletin boards and worked on my collaborative and networking skills. 

A Proud P.T.A. Mom

It’s time for me to stop worrying about being a P.T.A. mom stereotype and start wearing my P.T.A. shirt proudly! 

I think we’re right to not underestimate the power of the P.T.A. mom, I mean they have the power to organize bake sales, run fundraisers, and plan school events, all while juggling their own kids’ schedules and maintaining their sanity. (That last part is up for debate.)

A giant heartfelt thank you to all the Moms, Dads, Grandmas, Grandpas, Aunties, Guardians and anyone else who devotes their time away from their jobs, families and favourite tv shows. Without your efforts, our kids would miss out on some amazing opportunities.

Have you had a negative or positive experience with your school’s P.T.A.?


Originally posted to Instagram on September 27, 2019.
Edited March 18, 2023

Christine Coughlin blogger and writer
Christine Coughlin

About the Author

Christine lives on the West Coast of Canada with her husband, their three kids and approximately one million plant babies.

She is in the exploratory “In-Between” phase of rediscovering herself after being a stay-at-home mom for the last decade. She loves all adventures on the water or in the forest and connecting with other open-hearted, lifelong learners.

  1. Jade says:

    Omg I’m so glad I’m not the only person who secretly wants to be a PTA mom (just not like the movies). This gets me even more excited. Have to wait for my little guy to grow up some more first though!

  2. Christine Coughlin says:

    The school will be lucky to have you, Jade. Our PTA constantly struggles to find enough help. I wish more people felt the way you do.

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