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  • Writer's pictureSumbella

The Importance of Viewing Parents as Parents

[#internationaleducation + #business] Part 1: Recently I held a poll and asked - "Should schools view parents, as parents, customers, or both?" You can see the results in the post here:

Just one person said parents!

And my answer is the same:


I share here are some reasons why:

1️⃣: A student is not a product. Teachers cannot return one if faulty. Likewise, parents cannot demand or expect top grades just because they pay high school fees. Viewing parents as parents helps keep things in perspective, and may even help shift conversations away from money and more onto the needs and expectations of the family as a whole - see next points.

2️⃣: Treating parents as parents may help with higher levels of empathy. And I think that decisions made about customers that come from a place of empathy are going to be felt and received better. Empathy is good for everyone.

3️⃣: The word ‘customers’ indicates a material or business exchange. Definitions include: ‘One that buys goods or services, as from a store or business’, and, ‘an individual with whom one must deal’. Once you shift into calling people customers, it follows that they may start to talk about how much they pay in fees and what they ‘get’ from you as a result!

4️⃣: The word ‘parent’ is totally different. It generates a different feeling altogether. Some dictionary definitions include: a person who raises a child. Also:

A guardian.

A protector.

A source.

A cause.

An origin.

These words evoke completely different ideas. Schools also play a crucial part in helping parents safeguard and raise children - who are not products. So I maintain that making an intentional decision to always talk about parents as parents, not customers, helps this philosophy seep into marketing, messaging and so many other areas of the way a school works and their relationships with parents. And in turn, it creates more empathic relationships. Which, I see over and over, is good for business.

Call me fluffy. But I believe language is powerful and it can have such profound effects as this.

Further, I think that it is better to make intentional decisions about how parents are viewed and treated in a school. It’s why in my current work, I don't view teachers as customers. I treat them as teachers, and this has always resulted in the most profound relationships.

In sum, I think good business is about good relationships. And choosing to view parents as parents helps nurture more empathic relationships... which is really good for business.

💭 My views here are not exhaustive, they’ve evolved over time and will continue to as I learn and experience more. There's a part 2 coming where I share some things that helped inform these ideas.

💬 What do you think? What were your reasons for choosing 'parent', ‘customer’, or ‘both’?

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