** Disclaimer: I noticed after publishing this that I wrote something similar a few weeks ago but both pieces involve different families and both posts are definitely worth posting and discussing. Hope you enjoy! 🙂 **
So, I realize now that I have gone in a completely opposite direction than what I intended to have this blog mean but that’s okay. I wanted to talk about the nuts and bolts of a child care business when really, what I think should be talking about is the heart of the business and the heart of my business – and what should be for any business, really – is communication. When you have a lapse in communication, you have a problem and this past week, I had a huge miscommunication with one of my (usually) good parents.
You can always tell the measure of a person when you see them under stress. Then, everything they seem to stand for ethically and morally is put to the test and you truly see the person for who they are. This week, one of my child care parents had that test and acted in ways I didn’t think she would ever do – to me or my child care facility.
Her son was sick and like every parent who works outside the home, was put in a position of “what should I do?” And this week, that parent lied to me about her son’s illness, brought him while sick and then got mad at me when I found out he had a fever and told her that he needed to be picked up. (She admitted to lying about the illness when I caught her in another lie over the phone). She was literally mad at me that her son was sick and I didn’t keep him for the day. Then, when she picked up, practically blamed me for her son being sick.
I understand that child care facilities are a cess pool of germs just waiting to attack your children as soon as they walk in the door. So are playgrounds and shopping carts and where ever other kids roam. It’s inevitable that kids will get sick when they’re around other kids.
As a child care facility, we make it our mission to make sure kids’ hands are washed and sanitized (if our parents sign an agreement that it’s okay for us to put hand sanitizer on their child’s hands). And there is never a time when I want the kids in our care to get sick. Why? Because that would mean that I get sick and my assistants get sick. I hate being sick and I would never wish that upon a child in my care and for this parent to pretty much say to me that I wanted her child to get sick so that they would be picked up was shocking and hurtful.
What insane motive would I have to want her child sick? My day doesn’t change simply because I’m one child down. I still have the rest of the children there who need diaper changes, food, and general care. Nothing changes when I’m down one child. And before anyone speculates that maybe her child disrupts my day and that having him would make it easier, no. I’ve had students like that but this child is so easy and kind – a joy to have in my care – and so are his parents. I’ve always enjoyed seeing Mom and Dad and having wonderful conversations with them.
It was shocking to see this Mom being put under pressure. She was throwing her nasty words at me and it was ugly. So today, I need to get my feelings off my chest and let other parents know that this type of behavior isn’t okay.
What is okay is to be mad at the situation: your child is sick. You have a job that doesn’t care and you can be fired if you’re out for a certain number of days. You have meetings and deadlines and this whole situation sucks big time. You have every right to be upset and pissed and feeling like you’re trapped in a situation you didn’t ask to be in and you have no idea how to get out of. But you don’t have permission to scream and yell at me, make wild accusations, and stomp out of my house. I am a person who loves your family. I am a person who loves taking care of your family. I cannot bend the rules for you because that would mean that every other family in my care will be looking at me like, “What the heck? You’re doing it for them, why not for me also?” And then, at that point, why do I even have rules, if they’re not going to be respected and followed?
One thing I am often amazed at is when parents throw their fits and then stomp out of my house and not think about the consequences of the next day. I mean, are you seriously going to sit there and yell and get all kinds of nasty with your tone of voice and then be like, “Okay, see you tomorrow!” It’s amazing to me how much of a rug they think I am that they can walk all over me and not care, as if that’s my purpose in life: to be degraded and yelled at. To suffer all this verbal abuse and then act like nothing ever happened the next day.
Well, I’ve been doing this long enough that I simply won’t stand for that. In the beginning of my child care career I had no idea how to handle this type of aggression. Sadly, I would take it and then apologize to the parent as if I had anything to apologize for (which I didn’t). I would then bend over backwards to please them and give them whatever they wanted because I was afraid of losing them (and their income, if I’m going to be honest). But now, I’m not that person. I’m tired and exhausted and I don’t have any room for a parent who’s going to act like a child, throwing an adult version of a toddler temper tantrum simply because they don’t want to act like a grown up and use their words.
I have to deal with that behavior for 11 hours a day from their kids. Why should I have to deal with it from them? I don’t.
So, I called the parent in question that night. I let them know (when they didn’t answer the phone) that this was going to need to be resolved before they come back (and I knew they were going to come back. They were pissed at the situation but never said anything negative about my child care facility) and that we needed to talk ASAP and if that meant that they weren’t going to talk before dropping off their child, then they were going to need to come early to talk when they drop off so that they’re not late for work. I will not accept their child under these kind of circumstances until everything is resolved.
After the parent calmed down, she called and apologized. I explained to her how I felt and how this can’t happen again. I also explained to her what I talked about above: that’s it’s okay to be upset but to point the finger and verbally abuse me wasn’t going to fly with me.
So a message to any parents reading this: I get it. Your job is tough and when you add young kids into the mix, it’s 1,000 percent harder. But you don’t have permission to throw temper tantrums at people and verbally abuse people with your tone of voice or your words (unless, yes, you have a reason, like your child care provider or staff are doing something that is completely wrong. Then don’t go back to that facility). Child care providers are an extension of you and we’re on your side. Don’t bite the hand that is helping you and loving your children. Take as many breaths you need before you walk through that door to pick up your child. Remember we’re not the enemy. Situations happen that suck and you work through the problem. You don’t point to everyone and say, “F you, F you aaannnddd F you,” and then do a mic drop as you walk out the door and expect that these people are going to welcome you with open arms the next day. Think and calm down before you react explosively. Act professionally. It’s what you always expect from me.
A message to any child care providers: You are somebody. You are worth more than any words and behaviors being thrown at you. You don’t need to take the verbal abuse and you certainly have every right to talk to the parent after they calm down to resolve the situation. And if the situation can’t be resolved, then you have every right to let them go. You don’t need to put up with parents who simply want to act like children because they think you’re going to put up with it and deal with it. You have more self esteem than that, don’t you? Just because they are in your care doesn’t give them an exemption to treating you like a professional. You have feelings and you have every right to protect yourself, your family, and your business from parents who simply refuse to act like adults. Had this parent not called me to resolve this situation, I was fully prepared to say goodbye, despite how much I loved them, their son, and how much income I would lose.
I would’ve lost more if we had never resolved this and she dropped off with no mention of the rant and trying to sweep it under the rug.
I am very glad that the situation got resolved between me and this parent. I would’ve hated to say goodbye to such a good family but sometimes, your self respect and self worth is worth more than your job and your income. Remember that.