Pick your battles and words wisely

31 Jul

For the better part of 20 years, I have been working with kids and therefore been working with parents. From camps to classrooms all over the map, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with all sorts of parents. I would never say that I’ve seen it all, but I have seen a lot. From the extraordinarily high maintenance to the extremely low maintenance and many, many shades in between, working with parents has taught me a lot about the kind of parent I want to be – especially when it comes to advocating for my child.

Many would argue that it is crucial to always speak-up, raise your concerns, make your requests, state your needs…  A reader on my last blog post commented,

“When it comes to your kids and someone else being responsible for them, speak your mind…you only have one shot at raising your daughter, so call them up and politely express your concern. Who cares what they think of you anyway, it’s your daughter and you determine what is inappropriate.”

To a large extent I agree. But I do believe that a constant squeaky wheel will get ignored over time and poorly timed, ill-phrased “constructive criticism” can have an even worse effect.   Having been on the receiving end of parent grievances, recommendations and requests, I can say with a good amount of assurance that always making your grievances, recommendations and requests known is a surefire way to have your grievances, recommendations or requests discredited. You’ve got to choose your battles and your words wisely.

So with this in mind I grappled with saying something to the camp director about some songs and dances that were taught to the kids that teetered on the edge of inappropriateness. And if I did say something, how would I say it to ensure it be taken seriously? After much back and forth, and some solid encouragement from you folks reading this blog, I decided to write the director last week. Here is the email I sent:


And…..I got nothing—no response. So now I face the dilemma again. Do I push it? Try a different angle? OR, feel satisfied that I spoke-up and maybe they will think about things differently as they move forward?  I know that the most important thing I have done as a parent is to talk with my daughter about what to do with the messages she is getting from the world around her, so do I let it lie from here?

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10 Responses to “Pick your battles and words wisely”

  1. morecompassion August 1, 2012 at 4:28 am #

    Oh, gosh that is so tough! Nothing worse than agonizing over something and then never getting any response. Shame on them. I guess maybe I would try to be happy that I spoke up, articulated my concerns, and offered my perspective. Maybe if there’s another example or incident in the future, you can follow up on the original letter. Gosh, that’s hard. I’m really pleased that you did say something. I firmly believe we are our own best advocates. You did the right thing 🙂

    • Hillary Manaster August 1, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

      Thanks! I am happy I finally did say something, but you’re right – I did agonized over it, and it’s really irritating to not get a response.

  2. Kasi August 1, 2012 at 9:40 am #

    They don’t have to agree, and they don’t have to implement your suggestions, but there sure as heck should have acknowledged that they received your message. I don’t think asking whether they got it is too pushy at the very least. To go a bit further, maybe drop off an article that explains why sexualization and rigid gender expectations are problematic for kids? No pressure, just here’s some info that might interest you that you can read at your leisure?

    • Stacy August 1, 2012 at 10:09 am #

      I like the suggestion of checking to see that they received the message. At the very least, it reminds them that it isn’t OK to totally ignore your email.

    • Hillary Manaster August 1, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

      I agree – at the very least they could have emailed back and said “thank you for your concern.” It’s been a week now, so I think I will press again to see if they got my email.

  3. Lorana August 1, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    I would check to see if they recived it I guess, that is frustarting. I would also make contact again, Next year before camp starts…”We didnt get a chance to finish the discussion last year, sure would like to touch base…. kind of thing. Maybe even offer to help with list of apporiate vs non approiate songs?

    • Hillary Manaster August 1, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

      I’m loving all this encouragement! It really helps to connect with folks when struggling with stuff like this! I’m going to resend the email right now.

  4. Nina Badzin August 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    Seriously? No response??? I cannot believe it. And I’m not being sarcastic. That was such a great email.

    • Hillary Manaster August 14, 2012 at 7:52 am #

      No reply…I mentioned it to him too after camp one day. He apologized for not replying, but still never replied. I’ll be revisiting the subject with the directors as talk of next summer begins. Hope you’re all enjoying yours! School has already started here. And while it’s 112 degrees it somehow feels like summer is over 😦 Sent from my iPhone

      On Aug 9, 2012,

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