In my job as an educator I have vowed to never judge the parents of a child with special needs. Why? Because I could never be sure that in each situation they face, that I could do any better than they are doing. It would be easy to judge given my background and experience in special education, yet I do not.
Instead I try to understand what they are facing and try to be that person who helps them face it.
Years ago I had a teacher who was dealing with a parent who sent tons of emails on a weekly basis, who questioned everything this teacher did and continued to put demands on this teacher that seemed unreasonable and over demanding. I was asked to help with the situation, so we started listening to the concerns, we answered all of the questions and put a plan into place.
The e-mails kept coming, the demands kept coming and we kept answering and kept listening. Finally this teacher said to me, “When will this stop?!” My reply was, “When this parent has all of their questions answered, when we have put everything into place and when WE start asking the questions and making the changes needed even before this parent can think of what needed to be changed, that is when we will have communicated that WE are on the watch and they can take a break.”
The good news is that about a month after this conversation, the emails came less often, there were less requests, less questions and finally the parents went silent. I could tell they found peace. The fight was over.
Take a look at some other thoughts and specifics on getting parents to calm after being so challenging.
If you have a challenging parent, try to understand that no matter how unpleasant things can get, that parent is operating out of fear.
Yes, FEAR. Fear that if they stop advocating for their child, their child’s future will be lost, time will be wasted and they will not have been a “good parent”.
I’ve seen parents get emotional. I’ve seen parents get angry and I’ve seen parents turn to the courts for resolution. They want what is best for their child and so do we. We just need to understand that until we prove otherwise, they feel that they are the only person in their child’s corner.
My advice is, that if you’ve got a parent who keeps coming at you, then you are still in that gaining trust stage. Behavior Communicates right? The parent’s behavior communicates that they still can’t relax, they still don’t trust, they still have questions. They still don’t think that you have made their child a priority.
KEEP GOING, keep doing the things I’ve outlined here. Sometimes this process can take weeks or months depending upon the family and the situation. Trust me, the parents are exhausted and they don’t want to be afraid. They just want to take a break in this very long, very hard journey with the child they love.
I know you are exhausted too, but if you keep doing what you’re doing and the parents are still coming at you, you need to do something different! Try the “different” that I’ve suggested and see what happens!
Now that you’ve heard what I’ve had to say, let me hear from you in the comment section.
You take care and I’ll see you next time!