July 28, 2019
Working with parents is one of the jobs teachers have a love/hate relationship with. You can have a good or bad relationship with parents. There are a lot of variables that can make a good or bad situation with parents.
I have parents that I have developed long-lasting friendships with long after their kids have left my tutelage. They are my friends. I have lunch with them. I am friends with them on Facebook. They continue to keep me apprised of their children’s lives even after they have left me. I get Christmas cards and graduation announcements for college graduations from parents.
Those relationships were established by building trust. I worked hard to show I truly cared about their students. Students on my caseload, the students I write IEPs for, and students in my class, become my children, my babies for life. They become a part of my life. I take care of them and treasure them. I treat them as my children. I look after them and care for them. I try to convey this to the parents of my students. I try to go up and beyond for my parents.
Many of my student’s parents have my personal cell phone number. They know they can reach me at any time of the day, usually by text. Nobody has ever abused this system. I have received phone calls in the evening and on weekends but never at midnight. I am diligent in returning phone calls. This builds trust with my parents.
In saying all this, there are a select few I do not give my number to. It just wasn’t an option. Some parents, you can’t build trust no matter how hard you try. They think you are the enemy.
I have had parents tell me to go fuck myself. Fuck off. And that I’m a piece of shit. All of this is in the service of their child.
We have had rather interesting parents over the years. I had a student who was constantly swearing at me and the other kids. In the meeting, to discuss his behavior, I told his father that he was cursing a lot.
Dad said, “He has T-Rex disease.”
Confused, I responded, “Excuse me. What?”
Again he said, “T-Rex disease. He has T-Rex disease.”
Completely baffled, I asked again. “What’s that again?”
His wife smacked him and said, “Tourette’s. He has Tourette’s.”
Dad said, “Yeah, that’s what I said. T-Rex.”
Dead faced. I just nodded.
His son definitely did not have Tourette’s when he called me a bitch and told me to shut the fuck up.
These parents did not trust anything we did. It was a difficult working relationship. The child was difficult as well. It was a difficult working environment. It’s difficult when there’s no trust and we are all trying to do what’s best for the child.
Another parent we had loved to draw out IEP meetings. His daughter was very sweet. The dad was very challenging. The meeting did not go the way he wanted. We did what was in the best interest of the child. Short of doing dolphin therapy, we are very accommodating for our students on campus. This father was very unreasonable.
We concluded the meeting and he refused to move. When he decided to leave, he blocked the door and wouldn’t let the principal out of the door. The father was a very large man, think Hagrid from Harry Potter, and our principal is not a large man.
Once the father had allowed the principal to escort him out the door and kick him off campus. We all sat in the room talking about the meeting. It occurred to me, that someone probably should have my principal’s back in case the father got violent.
I rushed out of the room and chased them out to the parking lot. As I get to the parking lot my principal is waving goodbye to the father, who is cramming his very large body into a compact car.
“Have a nice day, Mr. Smith!” My principal shouted with a smile.
“Fuck you prick!” The father shouted. Flipping him off with two middle fingers raised.
“Have a nice day!” My principal continued to smile and wave. He waved and smiled until the car backed out and left the parking lot.
I let out a roaring laugh.
Not all parents are on our side. Some we cannot win over. Some of these families do not have good experiences with schools and have learned not to trust schools. I hope we can change their minds.
We are all here for one purpose. The student. The student is the reason we are all here.
With hard work and building of trust, I hope to win over my families. I hope to make new friendships and gain new friends for life.