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Parent Woes

Discussion in 'Primary' started by Kswaz, Mar 23, 2019.

  1. Kswaz

    Kswaz New commenter


    I’m currently in my third year of teaching. As the years pass, I am finding the job is making me more and more anxious, to the point where I can no longer enjoy my weekends anymore.
    Although the workload is partly to blame, I feel as though parents are my biggest worry. I have had one parent in particular writing poisonous Facebook statuses about me (usually about homework) and at the last Parent Consultations I received some negative/arrogant remarks when I tried to give constructive criticism (particularly from fathers!). I never seem to get any positive feedback from parents- even though I put myself on the line emotionally day-in day-out to ensure their child has not only an excellent education, but a good school experience/childhood too. And yet I seem to be villainised for it. I can do nothing right. I am a naturally positive person but this job is ripping me apart emotionally and I feel like a shadow of my former self.

    I’m not sure where I am going wrong. I did wonder if perhaps it’s because I am ‘young and female’ I don’t want to use that as an excuse though. I just want to hear other people’s experiences of parents. Whether I am just a terrible communicator with them which is causing rifts...
    I think I’m going to leave the profession regardless. Life is too short for feeling like a failure every waking minute of every day. I went into this job thinking it would be rewarding, yet all it’s done is made me feel like a terrible person.

    Sorry for the doom and gloom!
  2. becky70

    becky70 Occasional commenter

    Dealing with parents can be hard. Some parents will treat you with less respect when you're younger and in my early years I spent many an evening or weekend worrying about a parent who was unhappy. No social media in those days though! Now that my youth is a distant memory I get more respect from parents. I think I probably deal with them better as well, simply because I've got more experience. Also, they don't employ you and don't get to decide if you keep your job. It's your head and SLT you need to rate you in this game.
    What are your SLT and head like? It sounds like you could do with some support. Firstly, to stand up to parents if their behaviour is unacceptable and secondly, to help you with your communication with parents if this needs improving.
    Of course, if you're going to leave the profession anyway then you do not need to worry. Don't be too hard on yourself and do what's right for you. I still have days where I feel like I'm useless after more than 20 years in the profession. It's important that you enjoy your life and if teaching stops you doing that, don't be afraid to walk away. Plenty of teachers leave in the early years of their career and you're young so you can choose a different career.
    Kswaz likes this.
  3. lardylady

    lardylady Star commenter

    When I first started teaching, I had one parent (arrognat father) who was always criticising me and had asked for a meeting with the Head. I was very nervous, but the Head began the meeting by saying to the troublesome father "If you don't like the way we teach here, I can recommend plenty of local Primary schools which would be happy to have your son". It took the wind out of his sails and when he'd gone, she just said "He's always been a total d*ckhead." There always will be those d*ckhead parents, but as long as you h ave support from the SLT and Head, you will cope.
    Kswaz and (deleted member) like this.
  4. Kswaz

    Kswaz New commenter

    Thank you. My SLT are understanding but we are a small primary school and can’t risk parents taking any children out due to budgeting cuts, so we have to tread very carefully. That doesn’t help matters! I try to be more thick skinned it just doesn’t feel worth it anymore! I used to really enjoy teaching :(
  5. sooooexcited

    sooooexcited Established commenter

    If you can prove they are making comments about you on social media, ask your HT to send them a written warning about their conduct. I am a HT and have done this before more than once. Only one parent ignored this but the next time they did it, I reported them tobthe police and banned them from the site in order to protect my teacher and make it clear that no staff member SHOULD deal with this level of harrassment.
    Insist that this is taken seriously.
    aquarius10, bevdex, bonxie and 5 others like this.
  6. gerdmuller

    gerdmuller New commenter

    No matter how many times I've been told to ignore parents like that, it just eats away at me and can ruin a whole weekend.

    I'd echo what's above about the support of SLT. I once taught a child for two years and felt like I was under the eye of the Stasi: everything I said or did was taken out of context and returned to the headteacher.

    However, I always knew that the head had my back because they trusted me and knew what the family were like.

    The worst interactions I've had have actually been on the occasions when I've picked up the phone after office staff have gone home and taken an ear bashing for an incident which I had no part in and concerning a child who I don't even teach. When followed up, it always came back to a small child giving half a story where they do absolutely nothing wrong... and the adult didn't dare to question their role in proceedings.
  7. Piscean1

    Piscean1 Senior commenter

    Teaching is the easiest profession in the world to those who don't do it and they've all got an opinion!

    I think age does have a lot to do with how some people treat you too. I'm in my second year but came into teaching older than others and I am closer in age to the parents. Seeing a young NQT deal with the same parents I had last year has shown me quite a nasty side to them that I didn't see as much last year.

    Things being written on Facebook must be awful and should be dealt with. Parents need to know that, if they have a genuine issue, it should be taken through proper channels. Your SLT should be supporting you here. Our old head was one of the "tread carefully" crew and what it really translated to was, "take their s***". Thankfully, things are a bit different under the new head.

    One thing I would advise is don't hide from the parents and try to avoid showing them you're affected. You have trained and worked hard for this job. You are a professional and you have every right to be assertive. Sometimes being blunt without being confrontational is needed. I have given parents direct eye contact before reframing what they've said and giving them partial agreement and making no apologies for it.

    E.g. "Yes, I do have high expectations in regard to home learning because I value their learning and I believe this will support your child's progress in.. x, y and z. We really value your support in this."

    Sometimes they need to hear it straight... One parent complained that her child didn't enjoy school because I was strict. I told her that I made no apologies for having high expectations of behaviour but that when he started to abide by the school's rules and demonstrate respect, he would find school more enjoyable. She was slightly gobsmacked but the next parents' evening went much smoother. And do you know what? Her little cherub learned to behave himself.

    I make very clear that I have the children's best interests at heart. Don't apologise for caring! Your parents and pupils don't know how lucky they are to have someone who cares so much.
  8. jhagan99

    jhagan99 New commenter

    I remember feeling like that in my first few years teaching. And if I'm honest I still get the occasional pang of anxiety before I have to deal with a difficult parent. The only advice I can offer is to maintain a calm demeanor throughout all dealings, whatever you have to say about their little darling. Never let them see they are riling you (same as with the kids). And if necessary involve your line manager/ headteacher. Nasty FB posts should be addressed. I'd go to the head and ask them to have a strong word. You shouldn't have to deal with that. I'm sure you are doing just fine. Teaching is hard. You'll never please everyone and it doesn't get any easier. But I believe the parents do generally behave a little more respectfully as you get older.
  9. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    Sorry to hear you're having a rough time with some parents. Try to treat them like you would if one of your children were causing problems, address the problem not the person.

    Ideally get them in and reflect the problem at them and explain your constraints (eg school policy says we have to...). Get them to define exactly what issue they have and lead them to o suggest what they'd be happy with. Let them go away saying you'll work on the solution, and you'll have time to consider the best option. It is likely it won't be exactly what they want but they'll feel listened to and less confrontational especially if you say I tried to do X but due to Y I'm unable to do hopefully doing Z will work and if your still worried in 6 weeks we can review it and see what we can do next. Basically anyone who has an issue wants to feel listened to and have some say in the outcome.
  10. McCahey

    McCahey New commenter

    I now have many years of teaching experience under my belt. Sadly, I do think that some parents treat young female teachers differently - that doesn't mean you have to put up with it. Inform SLT about social meadia and your union if you have no joy there. Try and stick with it - there are many rewards in the the job. Good luck.

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