With the kids back in school, this feels like the perfect time to write a back-to-school primer. Not the kind that lists cool new school supplies, anticipated curriculum or fall fashion. Nope, this is a back-to-school primer for the parents.
No matter which camp you fall into there are certain unintentional statements which function as the verbal equivalant of rubbing salt in someone's eyes.
In the interest of preserving eyes and avoiding rants from some of my close friends, today's blog will focus on the verbal minefields to avoid if you happen to be talking to a working parent. On Friday, the viewpoint will be flipped for the stay at home parents.
1. I know you wish you could see your working parent friends more, but please whatever you do, don't ask, "How come we never see you around school?"
There's a reason you never see them at school. They're working. Doing that thing required to pay bills, buy food and insure the general survival of their family. By asking them why you never see them around you are a.) making them feel guilty and b.) making them happy they aren't around school more so they can avoid seeing you.
2. If you're not paying the nanny, hands off.
The purpose of a nanny is so children of working parents can go about their routines, not so they can accomodate yours. However, if you find yourself in desperate need of childcare and your best working friend's nanny is the only option, offer to split the cost, play babysitter on a weekend night or anything you can think of to show your genuine appreciation.
3. Schedule meetings in the evening.
Here's the thing. Most parents want to be involved with their children's education. If you're in a position to set the time of volunteer based meetings, make an effort to schedule them in the evening. You might be surprised how many new faces pop out of the woodwork.
If you're dressed for your morning yoga class while your friend is sporting a suit with heels there's a good chance this statement is going to make her imagine tackling you to the floor and teaching you a whole new series of yoga poses you don't want to learn. She's dressed up because, as discussed in #1, she's going to work. There's no need to comment.
5. Play nice.
Follow the golden rule of human interaction. Don't make assumptions, treat people the way you'd want to be treated and if you find yourself questioning whether you should say something, err on the side of caution. Otherwise you may find yourself on the receiving end of intense glares, or if you live in Oregon, extremely tight-lipped smiles.
Don't forget, Friday is the second part of my back-to-school primer with a focus on the worst things to say to your stay at home friends.