Dealing With Parents Who Don't Seem To Care About The Education Of Their Children By Robert Bacal

In many ways, it's easier to deal with an irate or upset parent than it is to deal with a parent who refuses to engage with, or communicate with school staff. When you can't get parents involved in the education of their children, you lose an essential information sources that can help you understand the child, and tailor how you teach him or her in the classroom. To make the situation worse, many "teaching problems" have to do with things teachers have no control over, from simple things, like ensuring the child has support at home for doing homework, has a good place to work at home, to much more complex issues that have to do with the emotional life of the child at home. Truly, parents who don't seem to care, or who won't communicate with school staff are a major barrier to helping children.

Two Kinds Of Apathetic Parents

There are really two kinds of apathetic parents. The worst, of course, are those that truly don't care. It's sad, but some people aren't cut out to be parents, and are not very good at it, and deal with parenting as if it's a burden, rather than an honor and a welcome responsibility. Some of those parents are not indifferent though, but have other large issues that render the interest in their children less important than it should be. For example, parents that have severe substance abuse problems are much less likely to be able to focus on the welfare of their children. Many other situations can render parental interest down to zero. Unfortunately, you can't always change these things.

There's a second type of parent who may appear uncaring, apathetic and disintereted, but may come across that way because of discomfort with interacting with school personnel. There are a lot of reasons parents can "refuse to show up" literally and figuratively".For example, agorophobics may appear to not care about their children, because they don't show up for meetings, and socially phobic people may shy away from any contact with others. Less severe, but still not completely uncommon is the parent who has had such bad experiences with schools as a student that he either completely turned off any interaction, or is simply highly anxious. I'm sure you can think of other reasons a parent can appear apathetic, when in fact the caring is there, if not the caring behavior.

Trying To Understand May Be The Best You Can Do

You never know why a parent may seem disinterested, unless you get to know the parent, if possible, and listen to them. There may not be much you can do with the truly terrible parents, and it's hard not to judge, but you may find that by "first seeking to understand", and by witholding judgment, you may be able to unearth reasons why the parent seems apathetic, but actually does care. If you can do that, you have a chance of finding ways to make home-school communication more comfortable and welcoming.

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