In my last blog, I talked about the frustrations of dealing with the know-it-all teacher. Thanks to the people who responded with a few anecdotes about their own experiences. I did chuckle at a few of the stories that people shared with me, so thanks for that. It was affirming to know that I wasn’t the only person who gets frustrated with the know-it-alls.
For my blog this week, I thought that I’d continue with the theme and write the sequel: The know-it-all parent.
Yes, I am sure that we all have a few of them at our school.
Unlike the know-it-all teacher, the problem with the know-it-all parent is that they have no educational qualifications, but in their own words, they have been successful ‘in the real world’. Here is the first problem – they don’t actually think that a school is the ‘real world’.
The next major hurdle to overcome with the know-it-all parent is that their knowledge and understanding of education is based on their own time at school. They think they’re an expert because they’ve been there. We’ve all been to school, but these people base their perceptions of education on their own experience. If they hated school and had conflict with their teachers, they think that their child will do the same. They want strict rules for when others do wrong and leniency when their child misbehaves. Basically, they are experts at avoiding responsibility and often have already formed an opinion on what should happen, so they will not be swayed.
One of the most challenging behaviour traits of the know-it-all parent is they share their expertise and give you advice when you least expect it or need it. It might be at the netball, in aisle 3 of the supermarket on a Sunday morning or at a social gathering where mutual friendships connect you. They’re also really good at finding the time to express their opinions on Facebook to get the odd like from other ‘like-minded’ experts.
To deal with these people, you need to follow the same principles as dealing with difficult teachers; find the trigger for the behaviour, be empathetic, ask good questions, maintain your sense of humour and finish with a ‘thank-you’. If you missed it, check it out by clicking this link.
But there is another important tactic that may help. You need to think about their stage or their platform. If they are voicing their opinion on a big stage and in front of others, like Facebook, then your response needs to be personalised, public, polite and helpful. Respond quickly, but only twice. Your goal is to take the issue out of the public eye, but do it transparently. Invite them in for a coffee or a chat.
Finally, I could nearly guarantee that the ‘know-it-all parent’ is the minority within your school. Yes, they may be the loudest voice, but their opinions won’t be a true representation of your community. Remember that most families have your back, trust you and want to work with you. Embrace that.
Check out other articles Simon has written here.