Dealing With Irate Parents: Christmas Pageant Gone Awry

A brawl broke out among parents at a North Carolina elementary school on Tuesday night, December 18. The first through third grade children had just completed their portion of the program, when three parents began fighting. You may read more on the story here. Apparently, it started when a father approached a male student about pushing his daughter. The boy’s father told him to talk to the principle, rather than directly to his son. From there, matters took a turn for the worse, resulting in a ten-minute profanity-laden brawl full of frightened families and children. Local police and school board members are now investigating with the use of interviews of witnesses and video footage shot by another parent.

Over the years, I have had to deal with irate parents concerning similar circumstances. My aim always has been to de-escalate the situation. Not always an easy task. It is one thing to redirect children who are acting up. It is quite another to deal with a mother or father who becomes unreasonable, and in some cases even threatening. Thankfully, I have never had a major incident such as the case in North Carolina. However, I think it is wise to foster an environment of open communication so that parents know they can approach me with concerns and that their concerns will be truly heard and considered. I think the frustration some parents feel stems from their perception that leadership doesn’t really care. It is my task, insofar as it is realistic, to remove those obstacles and to create a more positive environment so that any potential problems may be addressed quickly and redemptively for the best interests of all who are involved. Thus, I do all I can to mingle with parents, fathers and mothers alike, so that they can get to know me as a person, rather than simply as a pastor or authority figure. Relationship is key to clear communication. And even if a parent is angry, I want to provide for them a safe forum to vent their feelings constructively, rather than explode like the parents in the North Carolina elementary school.

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