The staff felt very underappreciated by parents who dropped kids off, picked kids up in a hurry, never read the notes that were sent home, never prepared the kids as asked, and never said thank you. I was asked to address that grievance and come up with a solution. Outside of telling parents outright that they were unappreciative and it was unacceptable there weren’t too many suggestions by the 70 plus teaching staff. They needed acknowledgment for taking care of other people’s most prized possessions – in our vernacular they needed love in return for spending long days, 7am till 7pm in many cases, with other’s children. Tiring, exhausting work that can be gratifying – the missing ingredient in this equation – a little loving gratitude from parents.
Well, clearly they weren’t going ask for it, nor did they have permission to do so. I knew that. So how could we start healing the relationship between staff and parents? We first went through a typical parent’s day – getting up early, getting themselves and their child ready, feeding them, driving them to day care, all before getting ready to head off on a trip to work and a long-day. Same routine at night. Before ever getting home, stop off to do some shopping, take out perhaps, pick up the child, then drive home, start preparing dinner for the child and spouse, etc.
How many of these parents were working out of greed? Just wanted to make a lot more money.
How many out of necessity? Would anyone go from early morning till night without a break if they didn’t have to?
Did these parents miss their children all day?
Did they feel badly having to leave them with strangers?
As we discussed these and many other points it became clear to the staff that most of these parents could use a good dose of love and acknowledgment themselves. Perhaps that would help to make them feel better about themselves and feel closer and warmer toward the staff. The solution they came up with – Parents Appreciation Day – with hearts all over the school and a heart for each parent to take home. It wasn’t exactly what they were looking for, but you could see the excitement on their faces at the thought of doing this. After all many were parents themselves.
The genesis for this idea came directly from The Continuum Theory, which says ‘since love is nourishment it is cyclical, therefore we need to give it as much as get it.’ There was no way to insist on getting it from parents, but there was no reason not to give it. As a matter of fact one reason the staff felt badly about their relationship with the parents was that they were, unconsciously, withholding their love in response to being unappreciated. Now they were free to give their love abundantly, which surprisingly feels even better then getting it.
I will leave it up to your imagination to create what you think the final results were.