Families: Allies or Foes? Part Two
The stresses of rearing children in today's environment can be overwhelming and frightening. As parents, our first priority is to ensure that our children are safe, respected and provided for. Those of us who have children or are the provider for children will agree that we will do all we can, at any cost, to protect our children.
This belief is the same for our parents in our schools. One factor, however, we tend to miss, as it relates to some of our families, is their struggles to provide the necessities for their children. Many of our parents are fighting daily to get the basic resources to meet these necessities. Their employment may not be sufficient to cover the basic. There may be some physical challenges or other extended family concerns they must address as well. These stresses compounded with rearing children, in general, can cause serious anxiety, frustration and anger within our parents and families. Consequently, when they are called to the school for a concern we may have, this display of frustration can often present itself upon their arrival to the school.
As educators, many of us take this behavior personally and begin to make assumptions about our families. We conclude that they don't care or that they are rude and disrespectful. We go further and state that there is no hope for the student because they imitate the behavior of the family. Our assumptions make our families instant "Foes" in our minds. From that point on, we interact with our families, as such, because of that one display of emotional frustration.
It is imperative that we take the time to understand our families. We must also be mindful not to make general assumptions about them based on one negative interaction with them. Understand the context of the situation, drill down to the root causes for the behavior and work to establish an understanding with them regarding your role as a support in the lives of their student. Taking the time to listen and observe is the beginning of building a strong bond. Be cognizant of their struggles and become a thought partner with them to identify the best solutions for their student as well as possible resources to support them.
Remember, families are our "Allies". They are just waiting for us to extend the invitation.