How to Deal With Mean Parents: Tips for New Teachers

Most parents will respect your classroom decisions, listen to your concerns, and collaborate with you for the benefit of their child. Others...NSM.

Everyone remembers “that student” from their days on the playground: some kids are absolute joys in the classroom, while others can be a bit more challenging. As a new teacher, you will soon learn the same goes for their parents.

Some parents will respect your decisions, listen to your concerns, and collaborate with you for the benefit of their child. They may even bring in special snacks for you to hoard share with your class. Then there’s the other side of the spectrum...parents who blame you for their child’s bad grade, think a punishment is unfair, or are just not on the same page as you and your teaching philosophy.

Disputes between teachers and parents are inevitable, and some of your parent-teacher relationships will be tough. But there are a few things to keep in mind when things start to go sour:

Don’t take it personally

If you are on the receiving end of a parental rant, try to remember that it’s most likely not meant as a personal attack. Perhaps they are having a bad day, or maybe they just don’t have a filter. Whatever the reason, stay calm, keep an open mind, and try not to react right away. Having a thick skin is especially helpful as a teacher, but if your feelings are easily hurt, keeping your emotions in check makes it easier to proceed with confidence.

Schedule an appointment

If you are caught off guard by a conflict with a parent, see if you can set up a time to meet with them one-on-one. Arranging a meeting to discuss a difficult topic will allow both of you to cool off and let you investigate the issue further. What happened, how did you handle it, and why do you stand by your decision? Also, is there anything you could have done differently? Preparing your thoughts and having examples to support your case is preferable to improvising in the heat of the moment. In addition, most educators recommend leaving a paper trail by documenting everything: the supposed incident, your in-person encounters, all electronic communication, and anything else that could come into question if a situation can’t be resolved between teacher and parent.

Listen to their concerns

When everyone thinks they are in the right, sometimes it’s just best to just sit back and listen to what a parent has to say. If they have a problem, ask them what they’d like to discuss, let them have the floor, and don’t interrupt (except for the occasional “I understand” or other acknowledgment). You’ll have a chance to answer their questions and share your points when they’re finished. If you are the one who has to bring up an issue and a confrontation ensues, again, try to understand how they feel and where they’re coming from, even if they seem unreasonable.

Work toward a resolution

You may not appreciate an angry or unpleasant parent, but, as a new teacher, you do have one thing in common: the student. You both care and want what’s best for them, so it’s important to work together instead of against each other in order for the child to succeed. Rational discussions can lead to peaceful solutions, and they may even help you identify areas you could improve upon as you manage your classroom and communicate with other parents—just consider it constructive criticism.

Bring in a third party

If your one-on-one meeting(s) with the parent don’t seem to be getting anywhere, you can look for a mediator amongst the counseling or administrative staff at your school. (You might even find they have experience in parent-teacher mediation.) This isn’t about ganging up on the parent; it’s about looking for a solution that works best for everyone involved, the student above all. Talk to your mediator beforehand, set up ground rules, and be respectful, patient, open, and communicative as always.

Kill them with kindness

As the saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. If you’re getting an earful, just slap on a smile, remember this advice, and look forward to working with a new group of parents next year.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Ana Sophia Garcia-Cubas Assemat

Ana Sophia Garcia-Cubas Assemat

$10,000 Scholarship Winner, 2020

CollegeXpress has been an instrumental resource for my scholarship search and has given me the opportunity to try my best so I can graduate from college debt-free.

Rayan Hamdan

Rayan Hamdan

High School Student

I joined CollegeXpress just a few months ago. I had been struggling with severe anxiety, causing me to not be able to tour schools and make sure a college would be perfect for me. I came across CollegeXpress one day when I was searching for colleges online, and it completely changed the game. I was easily able to choose colleges that would suit me, and I also entered a few giveaways! Thank you so much!

Joycelyn

Joycelyn

High School Class of 2023

I’m currently a college freshman attending Towson University. My major is Information Technology, and I plan to minor in Electronic Media & Film to achieve my goal of becoming a production engineer. Upon graduating high school earlier this year, I was awarded a $5,000 scholarship from CollegeXpress, which greatly assisted in paying my tuition. Truthfully, this financial reward was the difference in affording my room and board and tuition, along with other expenses for school. My family and I haven’t stopped celebrating my award since it was bestowed on me. I will never forget this opportunity for allowing me to get my foot into my university financially.

Yuhlani Patterson

Yuhlani Patterson

High School Student

CollegeXpress has helped me find so many scholarships that fit me. They match me to colleges I have specific interest in to make searching for colleges way easier and more efficient. CollegeXpress refers me to schools that have my major of interest and backup schools if I want to change my mind. CollegeXpress also gives out their own scholarships, so you have even more of a chance at gaining multiple scholarships. This website has helped me de-stress from the pressure of not being able to afford college, [of finding] what schools are right for me, and how to find easy access to scholarships that most people never knew existed.

Bri'Yana Brown-Dunn

Bri'Yana Brown-Dunn

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me gain interest in many colleges/universities and many scholarships. I would say the most helpful thing CollegeXpress has done for me is sending me emails that tell me certain types of colleges are interested in me as well as emails about scholarships that I can look at and possibly apply for.

College Matches
X

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Grace College

Winona Lake, IN

University of Louisville

Louisville, KY

Pace University

New York, NY