When to Approach Another Parent (and How!)

Studio 5 Relationship Coach Matt Townsend breaks down when, and how, to approach another parent about their child.

When to Approach Another Parent:

“Any time there is Pain, Principles or Permanency in play.”

Use the 3 P’s to determine when to approach another parent.

1. Pain: The act of a child is causing either emotional or physical pain to another person or themselves.

2. Principle: The act of a child is harmful or runs counter to the principles of healthy living (universal truths of respect, integrity, honesty) espoused by either community, church or family.

3. Permanency: The act of a child is affecting another person, place, thing or relationship in a permanent way, something that would be difficult if not impossible to repair.

• Don’t approach another parent because of personal preference or pet peeves. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself: Would 9 out of 10 other parents agree with my way of looking at this, or is my complaint more of a personal preference or pet peeves that I’m more used to noticing in other parents?

How to Approach another Parent about their child

1. Start with the Facts
No one can have all of the facts regarding the countless situations you experience in life, even if you had a front row seat for all it. We never fully understand another parent’s or child’s motives, intent, history, ability and/or character, so before you share your conclusion that, “your friend’s child is the spawn of darkness!” you might want to first share the facts that led you to that conclusion. “Hey Sandra, I just saw Keegan hit Whitney in the head with his football, and a few minutes ago he did the same thing with his helmet.” For most parents that’s all they need to hear. The facts added to social pressure may be enough to get them to jump right on it.

2. Share the Facts and Ask a Question
If you notice your friend is not quick to jump on it then you might want to add a question to the equation. Maybe there is some information about the situation that you’ve weren’t privy to or missed because you were in another room for a while. For example:

“Hey Sandra, I just saw Keegan hit Whitney in the head with his football and a few minutes ago he did the same thing with his helmet…. Is there some way to get him to stop?” (Or, “Am I missing something here?” Or, “Should we do something about that?” Or, “What’s up with all this football gear?”)

By sharing your facts and then asking a question you’re subtly informing the other parent about some facts that maybe they didn’t know. You’re also inviting them to share their point of view about the facts, hopefully opening up a chance for a conversation. Now, you may or may not like their answer or you might find out you don’t know the whole story, but regardless, you’re now both talking about the same facts. For example, what if they answered your question with:

“Yeah, they’ve been throwing things back and forth at each other all morning. There is nothing to worry about. Whitney seems to have a much better arm than Keegan does anyway. She’s already made him cry two or three times today.”

3. Share the Facts, Your Feelings and then Ask a Question.
Another way to share your feelings is to share the facts you’ve been noticing, your conclusion about the facts or your feelings about the facts and then a question to hear their side of the story. This allows the person you’re trying to talk to understand what you’re feeling and how you came to that conclusion and even what you’d like to see happen. For example:

“Hey Sandra, I just saw Keegan hit Whitney in the head with his football and a few minutes ago he did the same thing with his helmet. I’m worried that someone is really going to get hurt if we don’t intervene. Is there somewhere we could separate them for a few minutes to cool down?” (“Is there some way to get him to stop?” Or, “Should we do something about that?” Or, “What’s up with all this football gear?”)

In the end, we must always remember that just because we’ve shared our feelings doesn’t mean we’re going to have the same opinion about them. People are different and have differences of opinion in every facet of life. Be willing to let people be people; if the actions of the child are potentially harmful to your children, then work where you have the power to influence. You may need to keep your child away from theirs or involve other authorities. Do what you can to influence the other and don’t be quick to cut off conversations. The best way to influence another human being is to keep them closer to you rather than further away. There is a lot of power in understanding the person that you want to influence.

Matt Townsend is a national speaker and relationship expert who uses his unique gift of understanding relationships to help individuals, couples and families learn the skills they need to better relate. Through entertainment and humor he teaches life-changing principles and skills empowering couples to change by learning to communicate more effectively, to stop patterns of negative reactions, and to get to the heart of important issues.

For more couple advice from Matt, attend:

Date Nights with Matt Townsend
“Making a Change That Sticks”
Friday, September 24
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
$35 per couple
Location: Noah’s in South Jordan
To register call 801-747-2121

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