Now, I love to teach. I didn’t really grow up wanting to be a teacher, although I loved playing school and bossing around my sisters (maybe it was really just the bossing around part I loved at that age!). I decided to become a teacher at the end of my college freshman year when it was time to declare a major. And here are the honest reasons why….Number 1: I loved working with kids – I had babysit as long as I could remember and worked as a camp counselor for forever it seemed; and Number 2: I wanted to have the summers off! Funny now when you think about the fact that here we are meeting on July 26th!!! I also was trying to decide how to leave a legacy – I was reaching that age where I needed to find a purpose for my life, and what better way to do that than to help lead a child to learning. I also had a string of mediocre to just plain BAD teachers, so I thought…”I could do better than that!” So I (very naively) entered the teaching profession. What a shock it was to have my own set of kids to plan for, my own students (who weren’t as perfectly behaved as my memory served me from my childhood school days), and their parents too. But let’s be clear… parents send us the best ones they have – they don’t keep their best and brightest and most well-behaved kids at home, now do they?
Your jobs are even harder than mine – because your customers are the teachers themselves. Now, since I am a teacher, I can say this with full honesty….I expected nothing less than “perfection” as the primary characteristic for anyone who was my daughter’s caretaker. It started with a nanny when she was a baby, then an in-home daycare mom before sending her off to her little preschool environment and then on to Kindergarten. I take my role as a mom VERY seriously (I’m sure you don’t have any experiences with parents like that do you???). I love my job very much and most of the time I love being a mom as well (I do have a teenage daughter now, so I am well versed on the eye roll and the foot stomp if you need any tips!). I love my job as a mom so much that I have sacrificed many things in my parenting journey so that I can provide the best experiences I feel my daughter needs and my standards for her and anyone who cares for her are VERY HIGH!
So let’s focus on your customers – the parents of the kids you work with every day. There are many types of parents…let’s see if you can identify with these basic categories:
The Hoverers (also knows as the Helicopters)
Hoverers or Helicopter parents are forever trying to save their child. They want to fix everything for their kids and can’t stand for them to learn things for themselves. They might fail or get their feelings hurt! The kids in this family tend to be very tentative to take risks and don’t have very many tools to solve their own problems. These parents can become a real burden to kids as they grow older!
These parents really struggle separating their role as parents to their children from friendship with them. They have trouble providing structure and boundaries and don’t even get me started with the difficulties they have with disciplining their little darlings!
The weather is too hot and too cold, the parking space that was available was too far away and they can’t BELIEVE you are not open the whole Thanks giving Break for them! They always have something about which to complain and they aren’t ever just satisfied with a situation. By the way…their kids are whiners too…just sayin!
Every bruise, stain and story has a terrible ending in these parents’ eyes. They don’t want little Johnny to fall, crack a tooth or god forbid, have a potty training accident! They think something is wrong with their child at the slightest runny nose and worry that your center isn’t providing enough cognitive stimulation, or baby dolls to develop social skills or whatever else they can find to worry. And by the way…their kids worry too…about storms, friends who are absent or whether their sleeping mat is set up exactly right!
These folks are not around when you need them! Johnny has a slight fever – and they don’t return your phone call for a few hours. Johnny used up his extra set of clothes – good luck seeing another set in their bag for a few days or even weeks! Johnny bit a friend? Well good luck getting mom or dad to talk with you about it. They dropped him off with you this morning – now you need to handle everything!
The SupportersAnd this category of parents is…wait for it….the most common category of parents, thank goodness! These parents are your majority and they want to work with you to support all you are doing for their child. They remember you at the holidays and thank you often and with a grateful heart for your commitment to their child. You call – they answer. You ask for something – and you get it before you can even remember asking. These parents are the ones you really enjoy, especially after an interaction (or an attempt at an interaction) with a parent from one of the other categories!
So...Parents reading this - where do you fall?