Needing advice...

  1. I had the worst day today. I was warned first thing about a parent whose children had contracted lice from their friends - probably a sleepover. The parents themselves found the lice - it was not done through the school.
    Long story short, I dealt with the nastiest, most crazy mother I've ever met. Won't go into details, but she left me shaking. She took the wind out of my sails. For something I had no power or knowledge about. I know - we take the brunt of upset parents, and I've have my share. But something about this woman just shattered me. Why is it parents feel they can unleash their irrational, totally unwarranted hate upon me, and the school? We are a target for everything, and they're hateful. Yes, hateful. The principal backed me up - that's not the issue. The issue is what right do parents have to treat us that way? I'm still upset, and it's been over 6 hrs ago since this happened. I'm not taking it personally, rather I'm upset that I couldn't have answered with a professional response like "I will not let you speak to me that way" or something similiar? I feel like a sitting duck and unable to protect myself with people like that. What happened to treating people as professionals? Or courtesy? or respect? Why is there such anger out there? There is no excuse, no excuse at all for acting like this. My bottom line question is this, how can I react better than just sitting and taking it?
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    About mc3, LPN

    Joined: Jun '05; Posts: 1,025; Likes: 1,737
    from US
    Specialty: 12 year(s) of experience


  3. by   Arnu
    I'm not understanding why this mother came at you like that? Is she blaming you, or the school for the lice?

    maybe have a talk with the principal on the best way to handle this particular parent in the future, because I'm sure you'll hear from miss lovely again.
  4. by   Jolie
    I'm sorry this happened to you. I'm glad that your principal backed you, however, it sounds like the woman should have been escorted from your office, if not the school entirely.

    Do not feel like you have to stand there and listen to someone who is completely irrational and out of control. Next time, feel free to leave and request assistance to your office. Make it known that you will continue the "conversation" when everyone is calm and able to speak courteously and reasonably.
  5. by   Flare
    I think we all have our mama bear parents that we'd rather kneel on broken glass than deal with their attitudes. I find it's best to make up your mind that you won't let these spirit breakers take up any unnecessary residency in your head. It's not right that parents feel like they can verbally berate us when we have been nothing less than professional, but it's the way that society has evolved. Parents have spent so much time coddling their little angels that when something goes wrong, nobody has developed the coping skills to manage.

    My guess is that the parent flew off the handle over the process of lice removal or nit removal (depending on your school policies). She was probably more upset that she was getting inconvenienced. Granted this is all speculation, but no matter what the argument from the parent is, the story is usually the same. Parent is usually ticked off because: 1. they thought their child's injury was more severe than it actually was and are ticked that they didn't get a call or 2. they are inconvenienced.

    Keep your chin up. Know that you are in good company too!
  6. by   Nurse ABC
    I once worked in a low income district and regularly got reemed out by parents because their child had lice again and it was, of course, all my fault! They were uneducated and had no manners and I was fairly new as a school nurse and young. Like you, I was just stunned and became so tongue-tied because I couldn't believe this was happening! It took me a while but I've learned the best way to deal with people like that is to stay calm, do not argue (because it does no good), state the facts (your child has lice and must be treated or still has nits or whatever) and walk away the second they raise their voice and if you have to, tell them you will call the police if they don't leave right away. That usually works well. They are looking to blame someone and get out of having to go through the trouble of all the work it takes to get rid of their lice problem. You're right they do have problems but they don't have the right to treat other people like that and we have the right not to take it. I feel sorry for their kids!
  7. by   mc3
    Thanks, everyone. I truly appreciate your input. She discovered the lice on her own. It had nothing to do with me...I've told the secretaries many times not to just unlock the lobby door and let parents in without finding out who they are and what they need. Hopefully this time it will stick!
  8. by   caregiver1977
    I don't understand why you had to stand there and take being verbally abused. I understand people being upset (and believe me, some parents do have every right to be upset with the school) but people getting upset to the point you are talking about are not solving any problem. You should have let her know firmly and politely that you would be happy to assist her, but her tone was unacceptable (or whatever de-escalation technique you have been taught). If this doesn't work, the principal or campus security needs to be alerted.

    But sometimes I have seen campus security, security in general, etc, misused. Sometimes (not often) healthcare professionals, teachers, etc. actually PICK and argument with a parent, patient, etc and then threaten to call security when the parent, patient, etc gets upset. I think it is pretty lame to pick a fight then call security on the person you picked a fight with, JMO.
  9. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from mc3
    Thanks, everyone. I truly appreciate your input. She discovered the lice on her own. It had nothing to do with me...I've told the secretaries many times not to just unlock the lobby door and let parents in without finding out who they are and what they need. Hopefully this time it will stick!
    I'm curious about what specifically she was angry about.

    All the advice here is good so I won't add to it.
  10. by   mc3
    She was angry because she found lice on her child's head. She had been away for a week, and she found it when she got home. She associates with a group of parents whoe kids play with each other and stay overnight at each others homes. One had had lice, and it spread to other the kids. Nothing to do with me. She was angy because according to her, she'd done everything, and they wouldn't go anyway. Mind you, she started tx on Saturday, and this was a Monday. She wanted me to explain why they weren't all gone. I kid you not. And this woman is a PA. I truly think she's bipolar. I feel sorry with the people she works with. I'm told the other mothers in the "group" avoid her like the plague.
    I've taken everyone's advice. Yes, she probably felt guilty because she was away and found this when she got home. is not acceptable to act this way, to anyone. I will not react to this, or any bullying, again. I will not engage in further conversation, and she will be asked to leave immediately if she starts again.
    One thing I've learned as a school nurse is that all school employees seem to be a target for politicians and the public alike. We're the enemy, at least in our school district. Never again will anyone catch me unaware of this fact.
    Again, thanks for your advice.
    Last edit by mc3 on Mar 17, '12