First there is the client centred approach that we all subscribe to. However, even if a parent or carer is not present in the class room (a rare occurrence I’ll admit) or in a guidance interview (less rare but not as common as some years ago) their influence, beliefs, expectations and input are most definitely there in the voice and attitudes of the young person themselves. The young person may not be aware of this and may believe themselves to be acting independently, and so might we.
Secondly there are our own attitudes and perspectives as professionals to the parents and carers of our clients. I can recall my reactions when a parent accompanied a young person in a guidance interview; a range of feelings from dread and anxiousness to warm collaboration depending upon the parent and the young person. Some parents might take over the interview so that the young person can’t get a word in. Others were defensive, demanding and even aggressive. However many were there because of their genuine concerns about their child, and a need to understand more about their options and next steps.
I have heard teachers voice similar tales and it may be that other professionals who work with children and young people share their concerns. However there is one thing of which I am sure; avoidance of engaging with parents is not an option. Their influence is there whether we choose to engage with it or not and the sooner we acknowledge this the sooner we will begin to find ways in which parents can be included in the tapestry that is the guidance process.
If you have comments or thoughts on this please let us know.