When Sam was young, I often introduced myself to new members on his education team in an exchange that went something like this:
ME: Hi, I’m Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe
THEM: [stares blankly]
ME: Peggy Wolfe? Sam’s mom?
THEM: Oh, oh, Sam’s mom! Nice to meet you!
By the time he was in middle school, I’d been well-trained. (Further proof of the effectiveness of behavior reinforcement.) Introductions went something like this:
ME: Hi, I’m Sam’s mom.
THEM: Hello, I’m [insert honorific and surname here].
ME: Peggy Wolfe. [offering to shake hands] Nice to meet you.
THEM: Nice to meet you, too, Mrs. Wolfe.
Good education is child-centered. I get that. Talented educators have many, many children in their care. Surnames aren’t always shared these days, therefore we can’t expect educators and caregivers to memorize all those parents’ names. I get that, too. Yet I’d argue that if your introductions are going as above, then you could go further to meet your parents halfway.
Furthermore, we need to eliminate the following language tic I hear often with educators and other service providers.
“We should ask Mom before going ahead.”
“Has Mom returned our call?”
“We make it a point to work with all our Moms.”
Argh. I don’t think you need to ask your mom – or your moms, if yours is a modern family.
Parents are people first, too. We have individual abilities, interests, and needs. We are ordinary people seeking to live ordinary lives, even though we’ve been dished up some extraordinary circumstances. And given those circumstances, we deserve your respect.
I recommend you start with "People First" for parents, too.