When should you call a parent about their kid’s behavior?

Red phone
Red phone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are a parent, then you know the feeling of desperation of spending hours upon hours trying to help your child maneuver through the friendship battlefield. We listen and we advise. We role play and practice dialogue.

But sometimes, it seems like there is just no solution other than getting personally involved.

So when should you call a parent about their kid’s behavior?

Never.

Not the answer you were hoping? Yeah, me too. But I can tell you from personal experience that calling a parent is never a good idea. In fact, I have made it my parenting life’s mission to never call another parent about their child. And the time(s) that I have, it proved to be a disaster. That also means, please don’t call me either, especially about ridiculous things that need to be resolved at school or on their own. Some of my all time favorite phone calls that I have received, include:

  • Your daughter wouldn’t let my daughter use the swing she wanted to use on the playground.
  • My daughter is upset watching your daughter practice gymnastics at recess because she is jealous we won’t let her do gymnastics too.
  • My child is frustrated your child won’t pick somewhere else to sit at lunch because that is the seat my child has always sat in the cafeteria.
  • Your daughter is spending too much time with my daughter’s friends. They were our friends first.

“Oh! But my reasons for calling are justified. This is different, ” you say to yourself.

“I’m friends with the parents, so that’s okay,” you might also be thinking.

Right?

Wrong.

The minute you go to the other parent, your relationship forever changes, with them and with your child. Your “friend” now has to pick sides between you and their child. I can guarantee that you’ll lose, which means, your child loses. It becomes a dance of “he said, she said” while you and the other parent fumble through emotions and pride. And your child? For starters, they have to endure the embarrassment of everybody knowing their parent is the parent that calls other parents. (Say that ten times fast!) Plus, even if the kids resolve their differences, (which they will), do you really think the other parent  will ever feel comfortable again letting their child stay at your house after you have questioned their child’s integrity? Or worse yet, questioned their parenting?

My advice? Keep communicating, role-playing, practicing dialogue and encouraging your child to speak with their classmate directly. Just be sure it isn’t in the middle of a crowded school hallway with lots of gawking spectators. Face to face is always the best, but not very comfortable, so using a good old-fashioned phone call might do the trick. And if that doesn’t work or continues to get too heated, have the school counselor get involved, and they can decide if a parent phone call is warranted. But at least that way, there is a non-biased, non-emotional, third-party facilitating the conversation.

Otherwise, do nothing but be a good listener, never assume and never judge because you only have “half the story” and by next month, they will probably be best buds again.

15 thoughts on “When should you call a parent about their kid’s behavior?

  1. Oh I have been on the receiving end of a few “chats”. Not pleasant are they? Definitely doesn’t help which is of course not the intent of the call. As you said, third parties are the best place for the discussion to happen if, of course, the kiddos can’t sort it out amongst themselves.
    Thanks for a great post!

  2. Thanks so much for that! I never like calling the parent and think kids should work it out , but have been thinking I was doing a disservice to my child and not backing him up because most parents call the parent. So thank you for making me feel a little more confident and validated in my position. Yet, what to do when its your kid that’s the offender?

    1. You are welcome! What good are my mistakes if others can’t learn from them…lol! My kids know that DW and I will always hold them accountable for their actions. There have been a few instances that we were aware of that our children had to apologize to another student both in person and in writing. Depending on the situation – calling the other parent might be appropriate in order to let them know that you are aware of the problem and how you are handling it. One example I can give you is a time when The Tortoise wrote on some school playground equipment. Several girls were writing nasty notes about each other and I found out she was part of that drama. I actually went to the principal and told her about my daughter’s involvement and she had to come in the office to apologize to the school staff. I also requested that she be given clean-up duty too. I doubt either of the girls will deface property again!

  3. This is important advice. Parents, pay attention! If bullying or other dangerous behavior is involved, go to the school counselor or principal. If it’s not that serious, it doesn’t require your interference.

    It saddens me that I’ve lost the friendship of a couple other parents over the years, one of them quite close, because I believed that our kids could (and should) work things out themselves. In both cases, the matter had resolved of its own accord before the other parent even contacted me. Both parents were upset by my reluctance to interfere and said things that shocked and hurt me. I’m grateful that our children remain friends, but I have been wary of both women ever since. Please don’t be one of those moms!

  4. What is even worse is having a kid get their parent to call another kid to chastise them about their behavior. My 9 yr old son was playing football in the backyard during his birthday party and one of his friends tackled another friend. The boy called his mother and had his mother talk to the other boy about his “behavior” when we were sitting down at the table to eat the cake!

  5. I can’t believe the calls you got. I would be *mortified* if my parent ever made a call like that on my behalf.

    Ugh. Unless there is a specific physical threat (and even then I’d call only the authorities,) then let the kids figure it out.

  6. I’ve only called a parent once and that’s because my son ripped a gash open on his leg, large enough for 13 stitches and the “friends” parent made my kid walk home….The call was directed only to the parent so it may not quite fall into this scenario.

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