In our work with college or high school administrators, staff, coaches and faculty, one issue comes up over and over: How do we form collaborative relationships with overbearing parents? Let’s face it, we not only have a new generation of kids today, we have a whole new generation of parents. I am part of it.
There may be no “silver bullet” for this one. Parents are human who see life from their angle, and often challenges have no easy answer. I do believe, however, we can utilize the following ideas to reduce the friction between educators and parents. Here are some ways for educators to collaborate with parents:
1. Meet early on, before an issue arises and clarify the plan.
Schools that host meetings with moms and dads in July or August to talk over how to best cooperate have a far higher success rate than those who wait for an issue to pop up. In this meeting, explain your goal to develop mature, healthy, responsible students (or athletes). Then, ask for the parent’s help in reaching that goal.
2. Tell stories about success and failure.
Stories stick. In your interactions with parents, tell stories of “helicopter parents” who went too far and had damaging effects on their kid. Explain how intrusive parents disable kids from growing up and being responsible. Think about it. What parent doesn’t want their kid to be responsible and take initiative?
3. Create a covenant to sign.
This may sound unnecessary, but several schools have made progress by outlining an agreement on what both the staff and the parent will do to partner together in developing the students. Later, if a conflict arises, you can always refer back to the covenant and determine the best options moving forward.
4. Explain the upcoming year as a time of “transition.”
If we’re honest, every school year is a time of further transition and growth. Let the parent know that their role should slowly change to allow for their kid to grow up and assume more responsibility. We recommend college coaches and faculty to encourage parents to move from the role of “Supervisor” to “Consultant.”
5. Clarify the best interests of their child.
Elaborate on how you want to work on behalf of their child; that you care about their child and want what’s best for them. Remind them that when conflict arises between parents and educators, no one wins. Students experience distrust, blame, co-dependency and stress as a result.
At the suggestion of Senior Associate Athletic Director Kevin Almond, at the University of Alabama, we just created a 15-minute DVD for athletic programs to provide to parents who drop off their student-athletes for year one. If this DVD interests you, contact Chloe Lufkin, in our office at: [email protected].
Join me tomorrow for Part Two on this important issue.