To some degree, we have all absorbed and integrated the same hateful or disparaging attitudes and beliefs about disenfranchised population groups that many parents and caregivers of these groups have internalized. (See Attitudes and Beliefs.) This can subtly colour our ways of interacting with parents and from these groups, sometimes without our awareness.
When we overlook parents’ and caregivers’ expertise and wisdom, when we relate to them as lacking expertise, and don’t acknowledge the ways we can learn from them, we may inadvertently replicate some of our society’s power imbalances. As a consequence, parents and caregivers may leave an interaction feeling unheard and misunderstood.
At the same time, as teachers and other school staff, we do have expertise in our field. We also have knowledge and wisdom to share with parents and caregivers. In the best interests of our students, we need to identify proactive and reactive strategies and approaches aimed at establishing relationships based upon power sharing (see Sharing Power), with the goal of building an alliance leading to healthy partnerships. We can begin with ourselves, developing our skills and facility to activate many of the tools aimed at building an alliance with people who are experiencing social exclusion. This journey towards building alliances with parents and caregivers often begins with self-awareness. (See Alliance-building.)