BLOG: Having difficult conversations with parents
Now more than ever having a strong partnership with parents is vital. Knowing them well will allow you to have difficult conversations – something which Covid is still making happen all too often.
Living through Covid has caused me to have more challenging conversations in the last 18 months than I could have thought possible. With my family, with colleagues, with the families I work with. And I know I’m not alone. We’re all flexing and adapting to changing circumstances – and one of the trickiest things is that those circumstances look and feel different for different people at different times.
Back in July, the government removed most legal restrictions around Covid in England. Now, we’re asked to use our judgement in interpreting the guidance to manage and mitigate risk. Challenges can arise, however, when interpretations differ between people. And there are occasions when differing opinions will lead to having to have challenging conversations.
As childcare professionals we have a duty of care to the families and children that we work with. We also have a duty of care to ourselves, our staff and households. Often in these situations conflict comes when we cannot decide which of these duties of care is more important! And of course, what we consider to be the key driver in the decisions we make may be in conflict with what the parents have as their key driver. It’s a bit like trying to play a game of Snap where no cards match!
Business continuity is a tough thing to plan for as there can often be so many variables to consider, yet I do strongly believe that having any plan in place is better than no plan! Get something down on paper so that you have something to reflect on, develop, and enhance, as time moves on. In situations where it’s possible that you’ll need to have challenging conversations with parents or colleagues about how to apply changing guidance to your setting, it can be helpful to think about how to manage these in advance.
My top tips for managing difficult conversations
- It is YOUR business, and you MUST do what is right for you and your family, the families you work with, and your staff.
- Be confident in your reasoning and don’t succumb to parental pressure. You are the leader of your setting and have to make the best decision for your business.
- Be kind. Even when faced with conflict, be kind. Remember, we do not know what battles our parents are facing. Their reaction to the inconvenience of your setting being closed, for example, could be a reaction to some deeper, bigger issues.
- Be supportive. Listen to what your parents are saying about their concerns and what they’re facing. Signpost them to other agencies if you think they would value the support.
- It’s ok to get it wrong! I only have the successful business I have today because I made mistakes along the way. However, from each mistake I made I learned a lesson. I have made some bad decisions, yet I have owned them, owned up and made changes to put things right.
- Make friends with other minders in your area. Now more than ever is the time to put aside the fear of competition and to work collaboratively. You never know, you might even create something really special out of this adversity. Something that stands the test of time and puts your businesses at the very top! Having companions in business is always much friendlier (yes that is almost a Winnie the Pooh quote).
- Reassess – and then reassess again as and when you need to! Have a fluid policy that ebbs and flows with the changing landscape – be a stream not a puddle!
- PACEY Advisors are here to listen and support you. Often, when someone from the outside hears your situation, they can make suggestions for courses of action you may not have considered. A different perspective can suggest the best solution as they are not deep in the issue!