A sensei plays an interesting role in the lives of his/her students... from father figure to drill instructor - it varies from school to school - some espousing a kind of hero worship to others being a type of "buddy" - regardless, the position of authority figure is one that parents often appreciate and will use when disciplining their children outside the dojo: "Now what would your sensei say about that?" etc. In my travels, I've seen karate instructors get so involved in their young students lives that they review report cards, rewarding and with-holding priveledges like a position on a demonstration team depending upon grades, and making a concerted effort to ingrain in their young pupils' minds that their behaviour is a reflection on their school. To some extent this has benefits, but where does it go too far? I've even had some mothers tell me that the sensei of their daughter's prior dojo wanted to approve who they dated! Others express little to no interest in their student's personal lives, just concerning themselves with whether the tuition check is on time...
Well, it takes all kinds, but involvement in a student's personal life (I'm speaking primarily about children here) can get pretty tricky. How far should a sensei go in his/her concern with the development of the character of young karateka?
Here gender plays an interesting role as well - in co-teaching children's classes with my sensei, we developed an interesting "good-cop/bad-cop" type of teaching - sometimes he would be tough and hard and demanding - and I could be the "sensei-mommy" with a hug after class - though often it was the other way around! One way or another though - those kids do develop quite an affection for their teachers - trying so hard to please - it is a lot of responsiblity which should be recognized and used carefully!
One more thought on kids and karate - sometimes I run into the situation where a parent is witholding karate attendance as a punishment for some transgression or another. I usually tell the parents that the discipline of karate class can be a way to work through the offending behaviour; encouraging them to bring them anyway - not as a reward but as an unwavering routine - anyone have creative ways of dealing with this?