The dad walked into my classroom for M’s parent-teacher conference. I was surprised because mom said she would be attending.
His first words were, “I know SHE said she was coming, but when she heard I was coming, she decided not to come.”
My response was a simple, “Well, I am glad you were able to make it”, coupled with my best smile.
As the conversation about his child continued, it was interspersed with comments about what SHE said, or what SHE was doing, and what SHE thought about, you get my drift. I managed to remain noncommittal each time he mentioned HER name, but I was getting frustrated. I always switched gears and guided our conversation back to a discussion about his child.
Later that day, while checking my email , I received a note from the mom explaining that she did not want to sit in the room with HIM, and that is why she did not attend. She requested a phone conference. I was a bit annoyed, having to repeat the same information twice, but I called her. I had already sent home copies of everything I had shared with the father, with her son. Of course, her conversation was dotted with references to HIM. And like her ex, none of it was positive. I managed to avoid the potholes in this conference as well, continuously steering the conference back to my one and only issue, their child.
I have to say, this child is very well-adjusted for what he must hear from each parent on a weekly basis. He spends one week with one parent, and the alternate week with the other. They both stated that I can probably clearly see the difference when he is with one or the other. Actually, I can’t. I believe they are both good parents. But you wouldn’t know it from them.
My kids come from a divorced home, and no matter my issues with their father, a common front was presented when it came to their education. I never wanted the teachers to feel awkward or uncomfortable, and I certainly didn’t want them to “take sides.” But in this situation with some of my parents, I get the feeling that they want me to become their ally in this war. A war that will have only one causality, their son.
On the plus side, I have just as many divorced or separated who put their child first, this is not about parent-bashing. I’m just curious, what do you do when confronted with this issue? What do you do when the battle enters your classroom?