Posted by: Kate | June 7, 2012

What Is a Respectful Relationship?

These days many school districts are talking about Respectful Relationships. Our local district has made this topic one of their main focuses, something that is supposed to be at the forefront of all dealings. As a parent, and a stake-holder in the education system, I appreciate the effort. The problem is, all too often it feels like lip service.

Respectful relationships mean more than saying please and thank you. It is putting some equity into the system, and allowing parents a voice beyond fund-raising and playgrounds. Respectful relationships means understanding that when parties disagree, both sides have a right to their opinions.

Parents are the experts on their children. Sometimes, they do know best. And sometimes they feel wronged, and they deserve to be heard.

When one side has all the organized power, and is perceived to be impervious to complaint or concerns, then what does a respectful relationship mean? I think parents would like to see it mean equitable, when it feels like the school system sees it as meaning polite and courteous. The two, while not mutually exclusive, are also not the same. Whether they should be or not…. that is another discussion. But there is some call for honest clarification. If parents are not going to have  an equal voice, don’t patronize us by pretending otherwise. That is not respectful.

I believe, in general, school districts do want respectful relationships, and I believe at the top of the organization you often see hard work being done to create those relationships. But when it comes to the individual dealings at a lower level, too often parents come away from interactions feeling not respected, not heard, and not treated as an equal even when they have been heard.

I’m not sure what the solution is, but in a system where parents are being asked for more and more of both their time and their money, it seems time to also ask for a little more respect.



  1. Absolutely! Well put, Kate.

  2. Well said, Kate. Freedom of speech applies to us all. Keep up the great work! Your and other parent’s voices need to be heard.

  3. a very thoughtful post kate…
    the work you do advocating for bushboy and his fellow students is so important, even when you feel like it’s falling on deaf ears. keep up your amazing work!

  4. You are quite right in your thinking Kate. I think parents in all school systems feel put upon for their time and money. Here in the UK there is never anywhere near enough money in schools to do all that we feel we need. Parents are asked to contribute towards school trips , althought he school does meet tem halfway. We also have fund-raising committees who help out. Ros

Welcome! I always like to hear what people think of a post, it often leads to a great discussion! I am now responding to comments and questions right in the comments themselves, so other people can follow the conversation.

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