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The worst thing you can ever do when engaging a parent is start the conversation off saying something negative about their child. When something negative is said about our kid from someone else the WE WILL ALWAYS MOVE TO A DEFENSIVE POSITION. This week I had lunch with my daughter and one of the new ladies who works in the cafeteria came over to to talk with us. I had never met this woman and she started the conversation off with us (in front of my daughter) talking about how she had to get on to her “so much” for talking in the cafeteria. All I heard was BLA BLA BLA and I could see frustration and worry coming on my little girls face. I rushed to end the conversation and protect my girl from an ODD MOMENT with someone in leadership at the school. For all of us who work with parents, if you don’t have something encouraging to say to a parent about their kid please just say nothing. Even when we are have to talk with parents about problems (at school, church, in our neighborhood) we have to slow down and find something good to encourage the other parent if we are going to have credibility to talk about a problem with their kid. Parents need to know we care about their children. Parents will shut us down if we try to engage them on the basis of all the things wrong with their kids. Why do parents get defensive? They get defensive because they love their kids and most parents I know will listen to other people who also love their kids. How can you partner with a parent? Believe in, support, encourage their kids and you begin the partnership process!