2.4 Working with ‘challenging’ parents
Jennifer Chambers, a childminder, has noted that:
Reports from a number of teacher-professional associations suggest that there has been an increase in disrespectful and aggressive behaviour from parents. According to Wallace (2002, p. 10), triggers for problems might be:
money – particularly requests that parents pay nursery fees;
children's behaviour – particularly when parents react strongly to practitioner concerns and complaints;
increased inclusion of children with special educational needs (which puts pressure on parents and practitioners because policy has not been matched by monetary and other support);
parents' own negative feelings towards authority figures.
Dealing with this behaviour requires considerable skill and time, and practitioners, are not always trained to cope. In settings where challenging parents' have to be dealt with frequently, difficulties can be minimised by when there is a consulting and working with parents, whenever possible, or just finding opportunities for talking with each other. People who know each other well are less likely to resort to rudeness or aggression to solve their disagreements.
With regard to the bad press that parents sometimes receive, Margaret Morrissey of the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations brings reason and proportion to the debate when she says:
The vast majority of parents – 95 per cent – are extremely supportive. As for the percentage who are not, they may not be interested, or too stressed or too busy. We look at what we can do to help them, rather than blaming them.
(Ward and Passmore, 2002)