Confrontation with an Angry Parent

During a daycare pickup this week, the staff told me T threw a toy at a boy and caused a bump on his head.

They said the parents were upset, because it’s not the first time T and this boy have had issues.

I told the staff the hubby and I will speak with T because we take responsibility for his behaviour.

Our routine is to play in the playground after pickup. Recently, there is a 7 year old boy who T has hit it off with and his dad brings him to play with T every day.

As T and I were walking to the playground, I am stopped by a man who was visibly upset. He pointed to T, who was running towards his friend.

“Is that your son?” He asked. Judging by the tone of his voice and the rage on his face, I figured out this was the angry parent.

I confirmed I was T’s dad.

He then dialed a number on his phone. A woman’s voice came on. It was his wife, who spoke in English because her Chinese husband was not fluent.

She was audibly upset and reiterated the situation that had happened.

I said I was sorry that T did that and I’ve already spoken to him about it and would speak with him again that night.

The mom said this was not the first time our kids have had an issue.

I told them that I couldn’t comment because I was not aware of the history.

“So this is the first time you’re hearing about this?” They asked, implying the daycare staff were not addressing T’s behaviour with me.

I explained that daycare staff bring up incidents but they do not mention specific names – like their son – out of privacy.

The dad was shooting eye daggers at me. It was incredibly uncomfortable.

But all I could do was reiterate I am sorry, that I take responsibility for T’s actions and that I’ve already spoken with him about it.

But they were not getting the answer they wanted. They were wanting me to agree with their implication that T was a bad child and a bully.

And frankly, I was not going there, because it was not true.

And I stood up for T. I told them that while I acknowledge that what T did was wrong, I also want them to know T is not a bad kid.

Then I apologized that I had to leave to be with my son and I politely walked away.

That incident really bothered me. I was so upset about it – for multiple reasons.

I was upset that it happened. It was a reminder that despite the many gains we’ve made, T is a work in progress.

I was upset that I had to be yelled at by two angry parents for very valid reasons and for actions that T made.

I was upset because it was another parental complaint we’ve had to deal with this year.

During the car ride home, I spoke about it with T again.

I asked him how he thought the incident made his classmate at daycare feel. He was silent. That to me tells me he was remorseful and guilty.

The daycare staff did say he felt genuinely remorseful.

This was certainly not the first time a parent had complained about T and his behaviour.

But this was the first time I’ve had an actual confrontation with an angry parent and it was incredibly uncomfortable.

On one hand, I empathize and take responsibility for T’s actions and I was genuine when I described to them the steps I would take to teach T about what he did.

On the other hand, I have to continue to be T’s advocate. These parents – at no fault of their own – have no idea about the additional challenges T has to deal with on a daily basis nor do they realize the tremendous, I repeat, tremendous gains he has made this school year with social interaction and behaviour.

I don’t expect them to care. I expect any parent – as I do – to focus on their child and their best interests.

So I get their anger.

But I am not going to go overboard with my apologies, nor throw T under the bus.

I’ve apologized for his actions and I’ve committed to speaking with him about it and to do my part to teach him to do better. And I will continue to do so in the future, because there will be more of these incidents.

But that is where I draw the line. I will continue to focus my energies on the bigger picture and the journey ahead.

I’m not looking to win a Parent of the Year Award but I most certainly am laser focused on being the best parent and advocate, along with the hubby, for T.

15 thoughts on “Confrontation with an Angry Parent

  1. What a difficult situation that you handled well! You have to defend T and not throw him under the bus as you said, yet you still are teaching him what he did wrong. You are an awesome dad doing a difficult job. T is not the only child that has done this, kids will be kids and they are not perfect. They are all still learning.

    1. Thank you. The social behaviour is what I and the hubby find the most challenging with raising a child like T. I know you’ve worked with adults with similar challenges and it is hard. And you just have to remember to be their biggest advocate even if the world doesn’t understand or gets upset at them. And yes he is still young and learning. And he woll!

  2. Ugh, what an awkward confrontation. Somehow I think the parents were more upset than their actual kid. Good that you’re taking responsibility for T’s actions, but also for standing up for him. It’s good that you have such open communication and are willing to discuss when there is an issue and set expectations. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of time for it to set in.

    1. Thank you! It’s hard. I want to be fair and compassionate to other parents but I also want to defend my own child and try to put things into perspective. It’s really a no-win situation. 🙂

      How are you enjoying our first snowfall today? I sure miss summer right about now! 😆

      1. I am loving all this snow. Granted I live in an apartment so I don’t have to shovel. But it looks so beautiful!! Might as well embrace it as it’s going to be a loooong time until summer.

      2. It was very beautiful outside! We went out twice for a walk. Driving was a bit nutty though but thankfully the snow kept people away from the groceries. I actually found paper towel!

      3. I guess the snow will likely melt in the coming days, so good that you had the chance to enjoy it! Paper towel seems to be the new toilet paper. Glad the grocery store wasn’t too busy, especially since we’re moving into lockdown tomorrow.

  3. What a difficult experience. I am sorry this happened. I really like that you empathize with the other parents experience and concern while holding your child’s attachment to you and his needs in the forefront. I think this, as your loving posts, always do speaks loudly of your love and commitment to your son. I think the balance you show in supporting your son’s belonging, and teaching him accountability is always ever present in your expressions (here in your posts) of him. It sounds to me , as if that is what you rightfully did in this tough situation. And, you know I really like that you didn’t shame T, recognize he will make other mistakes, and helped him improve understanding through working to understand himself and what the other child might have felt.

    1. Thank you very much LaDonna, this is a wonderful and lovely comment. 🙂

      I’ve had some distance from this event now. While I am still sorry that this happened to the other child, I am really trying to focus on the big picture. We have had such a great growth this past year since school started. These setbacks are unfortunate but all we can do is to learn from them and to move forward.

      I appreciate the comment. It’s a nice thing to read on a quiet Saturday evening! 🙂

      Take good care!

  4. Oh my goodness, I am so sorry. When I look at Declan’s IEP when he was younger, I can see how many times he hit, punched, bit, pinched, slapped, etc. in a month. Like you, our preschool never disclosed who the victims were, and they never told the parents who the culprit was. I always felt bad about it but knew the school and his support staff were working towards the problem behaviors just like I was. That must have been so hard to deal with on the playground, and then to have to talk on the phone, facing such anger and scrutiny from the other parent (!). It sounds like you handled yourself and the situation well under the circumstances. I am so sorry you had to deal with this! Trust you are doing the very best job with the situation and that his support staff understand the behaviors and are working on everything. I am thinking of you and giving you an air high-5. You really did a great job in such a stressful situation!

    1. Thank you, Robyn. It was very uncomfortable and difficult to deal with. I was so upset.

      Now with some distance, I do have a bit more perspective on it. While it was hard for me to hear that this happened, it does not negate the tremendous gains he’s made. While I am sorry this happened to the child, we’ve had more gains and positive than negatives and that’s what I’m going to focus on.

      There’s also, as you probably know from your experience with Declan, always two sides to each story. And it sounds like there’s always an issue related to sharing of toys. So we’ll definitely do our part to teach T to share or how to react if he doesn’t get his way. But as they say, it also takes two to tango.

      I guess what I’m trying to say is that definitely will work with T on his challenging behaviour and moments. But I’m also not going to always pin the full blame on him if it’s not warranted. Someone’s gotta be his advocate after all.


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