Friday, January 4, 2013

How to Handle Difficult Parents: Proven Solutions for Teachers (2nd edition), by Suzanne Capek Tingley

How to Handle Difficult Parents: 

Proven Solutions for Teachers
(2nd edition)
Author: Suzanne Capek Tingley
Editor: Lacy Compton
Publisher: Prufrock Press
Publication Date: August 1, 2012
I've been a preschool teacher for about a decade now, and my partner Mike is in his first few years as a middle school teacher, so we've both had reason to be concerned about "difficult parents." It's important to stay professional and focused, but some parents can drive you around the bend! Most of the time, parent interactions are smooth and easy, but for those other times, there's this book. 

Mike and I agreed that we had never encountered a resource for educators about dealing with parents that was so, well, readable. We both read this book cover-to-cover almost as soon as we got it, often waiting impatiently for one to be finished a chapter so the other could keep reading. We skipped back and forth between sections, saying things like, "Did you read that part about the helicopter parents? I wish I'd read that before parent-teacher night!" This book was the subject of frequent conversations for several weeks.

And it's written to be conversational. Suzanne Capek Tingley is speaking directly to educators, almost as though she were in the room. She gets that we work hard, we do our best and we genuinely care about our students, BUT that there are times we just wish we could throw a coffee mug right at sweet little Johnny's blowhard dads (But don't do it, she cautions!) She also gets that we all want to be professional and not let difficult situations escalate if we can help it. In other words, she's on our side.
I think that's the key to this book's success. The author gives us permission to think those things (for example, when discussing a scenario in which a parent tries to give a teacher a $200 gift certificate, she jokes that you could use it for a new water heater) which breaks the tension, but then gives us solid advice on what we should actually say and do (i.e. don't take the $200, even if you're taking cold showers at home!).

Tingley also divides the book up into "parent categories," which is immensely helpful. Many of us are familiar with the helicopter parent (always hovering) but she also talks about Mr. NBA ("my kid could go pro if only the coach would play him more"), Pinocchio's Mom, The Intimidator, The Uncivil Libertarian (enforcing any school rule is somehow an infringement of their child's personal rights and freedoms) and many more.
Frankie and Mike at a Parent-Teacher Night on The Middle (via abc)
And, ever mindful of her audience, the author finishes it all with "A Final Assessment" in which she presents various scenarios and asks how you, the reader, would react. (Don't worry, she explains the "right" answers!)

This book is funny from start to finish, but it's also useful and informative. I recommend it to both new teachers and seasoned pros. Even someone who has been teaching for decades would likely enjoy the scenarios described in How to Handle Difficult Parents, even if it's just as a reminder that someone else knows what you've been through.

You May Also Like:
by Todd Whitaker and Douglas J. Fiore

by Joyce VanTassel-Baska and Linda D. Avery

by Julia G. Thompson

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for the purposes of writing a review, though the review did not necessarily need to be favourable, just honest. I frequently read and review books for this reason, but I am always very truthful (and, I hope, fair) in my reviews. Therefore any opinions expressed are strictly my own (except in the case of educational resource books, in which case I often consult other educators to help me assess the books, which I usually mention in my reviews).

No comments: