Getting Parents to "Cooperate"

Getting my Master's Degree!
-With Dad-
 In the same year this
event took place.
I still remember that school year like it was yesterday. I had run into my first set of problem parents. They made my life miserable, from unannounced school visits to late night phone calls at my home. Always challenging. Always threatening. Never kind or encouraging. Their child was perfect and (in their words) I was an unmarried woman without children that didn't have any business teaching.  They also made the unfortunate decision to tell the principal that anyone who wasn't married and a parent didn't need to be in the classroom. She was also unmarried and not a parent.  However poorly chosen, it became their year-long mantra.

Looking back there are many things that I could have and should have done differently.  I should have prayed more. Yes, prayed. For all of you who scoff at the power of prayer, you don't know what you are missing. Prayer is powerful. It can change things. Praying for wisdom and a better rapport could have changed this entire situation.   I could have also been a little tougher. Stood my ground. Been polite, but firm. Instead, I let them walk all over me. I let them bully me. When they came unannounced I could have said, "Sure, I'd be happy to meet with you. Let's see what times the principal has available". Instead, I tried to handle it myself and ended up being a doormat. I could have asked my principal to move the child or insisted on it. Instead, the principal told me that she had considered it, but wanted to prove that I wasn't the problem. So, I suffered through the year. Missed getting to know some really great kids. Survived.

Too many times, parents become their child's (and teacher's) worst nightmare by becoming negatively involved.  Parent involvement is necessary, but it should also be realistic. Kids are going to do what every parent says they would never do. Kids are going to fail at something sometime in their life. Teachers are going to make unpopular decisions. Both are going to make mistakes.  I love parent groups that meet and pray for their child's teachers. I love when a parent starts a conversation with,"Kim came home and told me this happened at school. Would you mind filling me in?". I love it when a parent wants to know how they can help. I love it when a parent treats me like a professional and makes an appointment to see me.  I love it when parents want to work with school staff instead of living in denial and swimming upstream all year.

If you find yourself face to face with a problem parent, be kind, but firm. Don't let yourself become a victim to parents that have found out how to bully the school system into getting what they want. Include the appropriate staff, principal, counselor, team teacher. Don't try to be a hero and conquer the bully yourself.  Look for alternatives and solutions. Suggest them to the principal and counselor. Schedule meetings that include the school staff so you don't have to face the parents alone.  And above all pray for wisdom.

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