Sunday, April 10, 2011

Kimberly K. Parker: Get All The Facts


For close to two years, I had the extreme pleasure of serving Prince George’s County Public Schools as a Parent Liaison. Transitioning back into the workforce after being a stay-at-home-Momma for nine and one half years, I excitedly accepted the position with all of its possibilities! What made this opportunity most ideal was being able to fulfill this role at the school my children attended. What more could a Momma request?

Serving as a bridge between home, the school, and the community kept my plate overflowing! Not one to complain about a little hard work, I proudly entered the building ready to rise to every occasion and left that same building feeling I made a difference…daily! The overall experience rewarded me in ways too numerous to name and has changed my life completely. Discontinuing that vital service to the community was most unfortunate. While I am gainfully employed elsewhere by day and run a small publishing company by night, I truly miss “my parents.”

Above all else, my parents knew that I was there to support them. As adults, we should really learn to sit at their feet for a spell. As I reflect on the monthly reports I submitted, contacting a parent or being contacted by a parent via telephone, email, letter, or face to face often times exceeded 200 occurrences per month. Not every missive was laced with sugar and spice. Sometimes, the concerns were both sensitive and serious and demanded immediate attention. I knew that in order to be effective as the parent advocate, I had to remain neutral and get all the facts. Whenever the situation involved a conflict between students, I would obtain permission from the school and the families involved to speak directly with the children.

I will forever embrace that children are out greatest teachers. Yet, their account of what actually happened, who was involved, why it occurred, and how was it handled differed from the initial conversation with the parent. While it appeared that “Kevin” was pushed out of line while walking down the hall, “Simone” actually tripped over her shoestrings and attempted to brace herself before falling. I can still hear my parent say, “Mrs. Parker, I really apologize for blaming that child for pushing my child.”

I can give countless examples of these types of outcomes. Instead, I’d like to offer the following suggestions when getting all the facts: 1. Take great strides to approach any situation calmly. Flared tempers, flowery statements, and threatening body language are such a disservice to you, your child, and the school. 2. No matter how right you think you are, remember that you can only truly testify to what you actually witness. While your child may not be mendacious, perspective and lapse in time from the initial event has the tendency to distort the truth. 3. Provide an opportunity for your child to express his thoughts and concerns without intimidation and listen intently. Children are to be both seen and heard. If you really want to know why children don’t listen to adults, it’s because adults don’t listen to children. 4. Turn every experience (yes, even if it’s unpleasant) into a teachable moment. Discuss with your child the importance of making right choices, honoring another person’s feelings, and standing up for what’s right. Be open to a peaceful resolution while incorporating consequences for unacceptable behavior. It is neither cute nor funny nor justifiable to allow your child to break the rules. Wrong is wrong!

Kimberly K. Parker is the owner of Writing Momma Publishing ( She is hosting “REACH! This workshop is POWER PACKED with great information on preparing for college, investments and savings, buying a home, and more! Visit to purchase tickets and for more information. Kimberly is an author and blogger living in Maryland with her husband and three children.

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