I worked in a large urban high school for 5 years. When I first started, I remember talking to my colleagues about student issues and hearing that it was not worthwhile to call the parent because “they don’t care about their kids.”
I always thought this was weird and found it hard to believe. How is it that so many parents could not care about their own child?
When I inquired with my colleagues as to why they thought this way, the response was always “Well the parents will never come to school to discuss the issue because they just don’t care.”
So I tried something, I reached out to a parent of a child I was having an issue with and asked them to come into school to discuss. The parent said they could not come in. At this point — instead of hanging up and joining my colleagues’ opinion — I asked the parent, point blank, why they couldn’t come in. I reiterated this was a serious issue and I would not be bothering them if I didn’t think it was important. The response was shocking and eye opening. The parent essentially said “I have 3 jobs, and if I take an hour off to come into school, I may not have a job. I don’t have time off, vacation time, or sick time…and I can’t afford to lose this job. Without it, the electricity gets turned off, there is no food in the fridge to eat. What am I to do? I obviously would love to be more involved in my kid’s education and be able to talk to you about my son…but it’s just not possible.”
After hearing this response, I asked the mother if I could come to her job. I would sit there until she was on her 15 minute break and we could chat then. She was ecstatic and immediately agreed to see me.
It was at this point that I learned we cannot judge what we do not understand. This mom and almost all the moms I interacted with cared deeply about their kids; as almost all moms do. I just had to change my perspective to see that, like all parents from all walks off life, they were doing the very best with what they had.