Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Getting Narcissists On Board

The invitation to “parent engagement” is one of hope for a better community. 

The effects that result include better education for students who one day take their place as adult contributors in the community.  It also includes interactive discussion among present adults who care responsibly and contribute selflessly for an improved future.  These are easy to see, appreciate, and offer an invitation toward.  But there is more.

Once parents are involved they become experienced in the ways of community service and working toward a unified cause.  This easily transitions into the work of moving political people to open doors, shift funding, form better policies, and create a greater future for the majority and the under-represented.  Politics may be a dirty word, but in democratic civilizations the process of creating relevant change comes through collective, cooperative, collaborative, and compromised initiatives... politics.  Agreement is hard to come by when we see the full list of alternative and competitive wants held by all members of our society.  It takes political discussion and negotiation.  Yes, politics is difficult, angst-filled, and a path of constant wrestling with complicated issues.  It is definitely not for the weak of character.

As we near 2020, we see the way social media has given easy platforms to many who will think and advocate.  We see large protests, marches, and raging disruptions on the news.  We see fiefdoms of philosophy popping up like popcorn as the heat of conflicting wants rises.  Everyone who raises their voice in protest believes they have the answer, but they are also, more often than not, disinclined to listen.  This is where they fail. 

It is easy to rouse the rabble and gain fans for one’s passionate claims.  It does not, however, change the future.  Most who shout from the stage of frustration will never succeed at fulfilling even half their ideology, because they alienate and isolate.  In the end, they become frustrated that less was accomplished.  They wish more people had agreed with them and done something with their exultation. 

We live in a time of extreme luxury, access, and benefit, but also a time of extreme dissatisfaction.  Reasonableness is becoming lost upon the raging seas of inflamed opinion.  But are those who fan the flames also willing to do the work of agreement? 

Parent engagement is not about parents raging at a school board meeting.  It is not about being pissed at a teacher. Or forming a protest against a challenged principal.  True and successful parent engagement is about the results, about making small steps toward what's good for the future of all students, and thereby what is good also for the future of the community.  It is about fulfilling the hope we all share.  It is about working through the listening and learning process while maintaining a higher and greater want in mind.  It is about being someone who knows what matters to others and helps them to win, while getting them to improve the things you value most.  It is about WIN-WIN. 

It is easy to become a follower of thinking being shouted from a mountaintop.  It is hard work to actually improve things.  

Parent engagement is about drawing responsible and reasonable parents into a process of actual improvement, for the sake of all schoolchildren.  It is not about weeding out the rabble-rousers, but is instead about enlisting their efforts as a teammate, giving them real work to accomplish, real results to hang their hats on, and developing their loud passion into actual fuel, progress, and lasting improvement.   Let them lead a committee and see if they actually have the chops to achieve a result.  Can they create unity?  Can they lead others into agreement?  Does their leadership style work for the greater good, or are they only about themselves.  Proof is what they need, for others, but also for themselves.  They need to know they are more than just hot air. 

Sure, most narcissistic founts of their personal viewpoint will turn aside from the real work, but over time, winning a few can lead to winning more, and soon there can be practiced ways of inviting them into the satisfaction that comes from achievement.  These benefits of a healthy parent engagement program are not easily seen up front, but they do become frequent outputs of a good process.  When trying to get a good parent engagement program started, or trying to keep one on course, checking your progress against indicators like this can help adjust the direction, and help you eventually get there.

Parent Engagement Solutions believes that community building includes everyone, and if you can enlist the efforts of the self-serving, the opinionated, and the myopic, you are building a stronger, more inclusive force - a force that will create real and lasting benefits.  

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