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Advice on dealing with apathetic parents

 
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crosscountrymam




 
 
 


Post  Sun, Feb 10 2019, 1:33 am
I have been teaching for a few years, and have come across a damaging attitude from parents, where their kid is suffering from serious emotional, social and academic problems and anything I bring up falls on deaf ears. The administration has not talked the issue either.
I am in touch with the rebbi and school psychologists yet I am consumed with anger at the parents for just blaming me instead of taking responsibility for their son.
I feel so angry at the situation that I don't even want their kid in class anymore.
As you can tell from this past, I am writing very late at night. I can't fall asleep because of it.
I tried saying tehillim, davening, talking to H', letting go, but it's so maddening and I am still very worked up about it.
My anger is also a buildup of not being listened to in the past with students like these.
Any advice on how to proceed with parents, school and student would be so helpful.
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amother




Red


Post  Sun, Feb 10 2019, 1:57 am
There is a good chance that the parents are seriously overwhelmed with their lives, and taking on this serious issue is just too much for them at this point.

You may want to try mapping out a specific course of action that just needs their approval, I.e. "I found a therapist that can do an evaluation this coming Monday at three, can I tell her you'll take the appointment? This way we can get started on handling things better with him in the classroom."
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amother




Wheat


Post  Sun, Feb 10 2019, 2:14 am
crosscountrymam wrote:
I have been teaching for a few years, and have come across a damaging attitude from parents, where their kid is suffering from serious emotional, social and academic problems and anything I bring up falls on deaf ears. The administration has not talked the issue either.
I am in touch with the rebbi and school psychologists yet I am consumed with anger at the parents for just blaming me instead of taking responsibility for their son.
I feel so angry at the situation that I don't even want their kid in class anymore.
As you can tell from this past, I am writing very late at night. I can't fall asleep because of it.
I tried saying tehillim, davening, talking to H', letting go, but it's so maddening and I am still very worked up about it.
My anger is also a buildup of not being listened to in the past with students like these.
Any advice on how to proceed with parents, school and student would be so helpful.


No advice regarding the child - but...

You need a mentor who can help you learn to leave "work at work" - (even when you are doing work at your kitchen table at night)... and how to care about the students - and accept their parents for who they are.
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teachkids




 
 
 


Post  Sun, Feb 10 2019, 7:10 am
Step 1: get admins on board. They should be bringing up the issues every so often and they may be able to get things done behind the scenes. Some schools even do things like threaten to not reaccept the kids without an evaluation.
Step 2: constant communication. Email every single time something happens. Yes, you will get no response, but let it keep building up. They may ignore you this year, but it gives next year's teacher a fighting chance of them paying attention to her and getting the kid help.
Step 3: if parents aren't atagonistic, do your best to help the kid with strategies and help in school. (if they fight back when you try to help, you may have to wait for this step)
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amother




Taupe


Post  Sun, Feb 10 2019, 7:31 am
amother wrote:
There is a good chance that the parents are seriously overwhelmed with their lives, and taking on this serious issue is just too much for them at this point.

You may want to try mapping out a specific course of action that just needs their approval, I.e. "I found a therapist that can do an evaluation this coming Monday at three, can I tell her you'll take the appointment? This way we can get started on handling things better with him in the classroom."


I've been a teacher for over 20 years, and I know exactly how you feel. But! Please don't do the above. You are violating boundaries here. All you can do is try to get the administration on board and keep repeating yourself, and do what you can for the child in your own classroom. At some point, perhaps the parents will be willing to hear what you are saying. Until they are ready, however, it is not your place to do more than your job in the classroom. It took me a long time to make my peace with this, but the truth is that (short of terrible neglect, or abuse) parents have the right to make their own decisions about their children. What teachkids says above is probably your best bet.
Also, I made my peace with the fact that I cannot help every kid -- it's just not in my power to do so. This was aided by the fact that teaching for so many years gave me a long view -- often I saw that these kids turned out fine because somewhere down the line the parents were ready to work with the school, or sometimes the kid just reached a stage in his/her development where he/she insisted on getting help on his/her own. G-d looks after fools and children, you know.
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Simple1




 
 
 


Post  Sun, Feb 10 2019, 8:15 am
amother wrote:

Also, I made my peace with the fact that I cannot help every kid -- it's just not in my power to do so. This was aided by the fact that teaching for so many years gave me a long view -- often I saw that these kids turned out fine because somewhere down the line the parents were ready to work with the school, or sometimes the kid just reached a stage in his/her development where he/she insisted on getting help on his/her own. G-d looks after fools and children, you know.


And some kids are just not cut out for formal schooling and will turn out fine once they're done with the school years. I know some people like that.
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amother




Tan


Post  Sun, Feb 10 2019, 9:11 am
Oy. I understand where you're coming from, but you do need to learn to take a step back and not get so emotionally involved in your students. Every parent comes with their own package of issues that they're dealing with. You will not be privy to those issues, so you really can't judge them. In an ideal world, parents would put aside their own issues and deal with their kids properly. But this isn't an ideal world, it's messy real life.

You also need to familiarize yourself with the stages of grief, which I've found that many parents go through when the realization hits that one or more of their children is dealing with a complex problem. Denial is first, then comes anger. I've seen time and time again that parents can go through exactly this pattern. For some parents, denial lasts a week. For some parents, denial lasts two years. Anger very often comes out in the form of blaming the teachers/ school. Parents can slip back and forth between the different stages.

Practically speaking, have the administration take over dealing with this case. They should set up weekly meetings with the parents with specific, written goals to be met each week. Again, the administration should be calling the shots here. Take a step back, because this is your student this year, but he will be someone else's student in a few months. So the issue is not restricted to your classroom. It didn't start with you, and it won't end with you.
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octopus




 
 
 


Post  Sun, Feb 10 2019, 9:22 am
I agree with above poster. Very wise post! You need to take a step back. And I agree 100% about the parents experiencing the different stages of grief when dealing with difficult children. You may view it as apathetic. But 95% of the time it is not. Most parents want the best for their kids and it's not going to happen on the timeline that you want it to occur. Parents often have to make very difficult decisions that require medical considerations (medication), professionals (costly and financial burden) and weighing it across the needs of how this may affect the rest of the family (time-wise takes away from other kids)/. Plus coming to terms with the child's deficits. These are very tough decisions. And as a teacher you have to proceed very carefully. You do not want to come off as pushy and obnoxious and uncaring. It's very difficult as a teacher to watch a kid not performing in class when you think it can be easily remedied by xyz. But this is not your call. You did yours. Deep breath and step back.
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amother




Pumpkin


Post  Sun, Feb 10 2019, 9:30 am
Whatever you do, be good to the kid and don’t let your feelings affect the way you treat him/ her.
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amother




Honeydew


Post  Sun, Feb 10 2019, 9:40 am
I was talking to a SAHM of a large family who's husband is in chinuch. One of their children needed a lot of "intervention". She told me what Octopus said. She was telling me how when she spoke to a "specialist". The specialist validate that it was going to be a lot for her as a mother and told her that a different's child's mother actually left her job in order to do this because it it so time intensive. My friend decided that she was just going to go through it and thank G-d her child is now doing amazing. She said she doesn't judge parents though who make a different choice and decide that they just can't. Not everyone is a SAHM or can quit their job. They might decide that the amount of time and energy they would need to put in to help this child in the way he really needed to be helped would be at the expense of the rest of the family and they can't do that to the rest of the family.

I remember someone else telling me that she got flack for going to graduate school since her child needed interventions and someone? thought she shouldn't be doing something so grueling that would take away from her ability to focus on her child's needs at a time.

It's really not simple. Hopefully none of us should have to make such decisions and always be able to give our kids what they need.
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amother




Ivory


Post  Sun, Feb 10 2019, 10:18 am
As a school social worker I got into trouble because of this problem. By the time I got some good advice on how to handle it, it was too late for me but maybe it can help you. We have to realize our limitations. These are G-d's children and it's in His hands. We can be shluchim for good things for those rare parents who appreciate our input but generally, we are better off by telling the administration and letting them handle it. If the parents complain about us we get blamed even if we are right. If they are not happy with the administration, they don't switch schools and nobody is going to lose their job.

If you tick off the wrong parent, you are unemployed and it's not worth it. Parents will find what to complain about even when you are doing an exemplary job, don't give them more ammunition.

I like that line about parents needing years to get over the denial which takes the form of anger. I see that a lot, regarding my own and other professional's recommendations, that a year or two after the fact the parents finally do what they have to but in that time in between they trashed the professional.

Just be that individual who was a bright spot for that poor child.
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Petra




 
 
 


Post  Sun, Feb 10 2019, 10:46 am
I'm a parent of a difficult child. It's grueling. Home life is disrupted and it flows over to the other kids who are affected and we try to manage it all. It zaps any energy whatsoever and one day to the next is a fight to keep above water. My child's previous school couldn't address the issues adequately. We removed him and placed him in a different school and he is much better. We did have meetings frequently with his previous teachers but because I didn't think the school could really handle the issues we took him out before an IEP was started (which it probably should have been started a whole year prior). I know another kid in the school who just floundered from year to year and just didn't have the proper support. He has a learning disability and had to be pulled out and put in public school to gain additional resources. He is doing wonderfully now. If the school is lacking such resources or the kid is not evaluated by special ed learning specialist, you really can't do much.
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crosscountrymam




 
 
 


Post  Sun, Feb 10 2019, 11:36 am
Wow, thank you.
I wrote every recommendation down!
I am really going to try to work on referring this out...
I think I got so uncharacteristically angry because the admin has not listened to me about this boy in the past.
Time to let go and have Hashem take over.
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notshanarishona




 
 
 


Post  Sun, Feb 10 2019, 11:39 am
It's frustrating , what I work on is I do my part and the rest is not up to me. I.e. I tell the parents what I think the kids need, make a deficiency report to the admin or whatever your protocol is , and leave it at that. The longer I teach the more I realize that I can only help students to the extent that their parents are active participants in the process and more than that is not my problem or responsibility
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teachkids




 
 
 


Post  Sun, Feb 10 2019, 12:16 pm
it sounds like half your issue is that your administrators aren't on board with you.
Document, document, document. Take note of every inappropriate/ ridiculous thing that you notice, and bring it to your admins every few days, "I'm more and more concerned about X. This week he showed __________________ when he did ________________________." I really think that with __________________ he can improve and be much happier. How do we help him get this help".
If he is impacting other kids, make sure to emphasize that.
If you can, talk to last year's teachers and find out if they saw the same thing. If they did, then bring that up as well, and mention that "if we don't help him, then it will only go more downhill, and ______________"
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amother




Bronze


Post  Sun, Feb 10 2019, 1:11 pm
First of all, kudos to all the imas who responded to this struggling teacher with such wonderful advice & perspective- this is a community at its best!!
I'm a mom of a high needs kid who went back to graduate school and became a special ed teacher. I currently work in a frum school as lead special services teacher, so I've seen this issue from many angles...
Having adequate emotional, financial & time resources in these situations is make or break... In the end we can only do out best and understand that the kids- & we!- are H"KBH's children, and we have to constantly turn to Him.
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