Patching Poor Parent/Teacher Relationships

Relating to parents can take some of the stress out of educating.
Aug 3, 2022
Parents can be of the many sources of teacher stress.

Most teachers enjoy a good relationship with the parents of their students, that said, teachers still rank high on the list of professions where physical harm is a real threat.

There is an epidemic of stress among teachers. In some states, teachers have put in more WorkCover claims than any other profession and teacher well-being indexes are showing more than 60% of teachers are stressed.  

A third of teachers fail to stay in the profession more than five years and parents can help reduce teacher burnout and improve their morale 

Attacks on teacher reputation are too common, as are attacks on professionalism and judgement. Emails, SMS, texting, parent portals and the unreasonable immediacy of response expected are some of the greatest problems in teacher/parent relationships.  

According to Dr Tim Hawkes, a well being authority, most parents work co-operatively and well with teachers but he says there is a growing number that don’t and they can do a great deal of damage to teachers and their schools.

“Some parents are ‘helicopter parents’ – up in the air hovering over their children being far too involved. Other parents are 'all at sea’, are away for long periods and far too little involved,” says Dr Hawkes.

The biggest issues in the teacher parent relationship are emails, SMS, texting, parent portals and the unreasonable immediacy of response expected.

“A slighted child messages their parent that they're upset and the parent contacts the teacher. An inquisition results which involves the teacher feeling threatened.

“The student is asked what happened but can't remember because the alleged event happened more than two hours ago. Meanwhile, the teacher has gone into melt-down,” says Dr Hawkes.

Dr Hawkes says that for parents and teachers to work together both parties need to respect each other and seek ways to support each other.

Teachers need to recognise the strength of parental anxiety in these difficult times and the fact the home might be a source of great conflict, insecurity and angst.

Parents need to recognise that teachers are trained professionals. They need to remember that teachers must see to the needs of scores of students – not just one.

A teacher is often able to see the strengths and weaknesses in a child objectively because they can compare the child with thousands of others they have taught.

Research shows that parents who are engaged with their children's school have a positive impact on their children's grades.

Dr Hawkes is Cofounder of wellbeing platform Truwell.