Do you feel “ghosted” by parents? Maybe it’s the Experts’ Curse!
You have dedicated, passionate staff doing incredible work with children and adolescents, but there appears to be silence on the home front except when an issue or emergency arises. It can often feel as if you are being “ghosted” by parents, abandoning you to go it alone. You might not be totally off base. Ghosting has a lot to do with a person’s comfort level with communication (yours and theirs). Humans will do anything to avoid feeling uncomfortable or the feeling of not being enough, not to mention the fear of confrontation.
Communication flows easily when we like each other, and have something in common. The more we know each other and the more we have in common, the easier it is to be ourselves. Being authentic is where real connection and communication begin. It’s understandable to think that the child’s well-being should be enough commonality to get the communication flowing, but it is not.
There are a couple of reasons for this. First, we forget a parents’ confidence level can be a roller-coaster, it slowly climbs up and quickly plunges down. The fear of judgment and the feeling that they are not measuring up as a parent becomes a demotivator for engaging in any form of communication.
Secondly, it’s important to remember we are asking parents to engage in an arena they know little about. This is where the “Experts Curse” comes in. We have so much expertise and are so skilled at navigating and functioning within our system, be it education or health, that we forget the need to translate the lingo and give some context to what we are trying to convey. The playing field of knowledge is definitely not a level one. Parents don’t have your unique content knowledge.
The majority of providers I have worked with really have given a good effort in communication. However, the “Experts Curse” gets in the way when we don’t sort out “need to know,” from “nice to know.” Too much information on unfamiliar content especially to a person with an emotional stake in it will cause a shutdown. An expert is like a website with lots of good information but the consumer can’t find anything because they “don’t know what they don’t know.”
Third and last, believe it or not, parents don’t feel their concern is something they should bother you with so they hesitate to reach out. Sometimes there is the fear of looking stupid, they think they should know the answer already, maybe they were told and they missed it; they hold your role in high regard and don’t want to intrude on your time, and sometimes their child/adolescent is begging them not to contact you.
In my decades of work helping to bridge the gap between parents and providers, I can honestly say that ghosting is a two-way street. I know with the hectic pace today, it is hard to ask people to slow down, but for our kids’ sake, we need to do just that.
Take a few minutes to get to know each other first as people and trust that you will organically move from the delivery of a report to authentic dialogue. I guarantee you the “ghosting” will stop and both experts (provider and parent) will be seen and understood.
Parent Action for Healthy Kids will be welcoming in spring by hosting two FREE webinars for parents.
I invite you to join us and see for yourself the high level of interest parents have in learning how to best support their kids.
Founder Parent Action for Healthy Kids
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