I used to joke that I could never let the parents of my students know how lessons went with my own child. They’d never return to my studio if they knew the frequency, duration, and content of our lessons. Where I could be so firm and clear with their children, I had to be pretty lackadaisical with my own. But I spend so much of my day telling him what to do already, that piano lessons just felt like me bossing him around some more. I had to compromise on the quality of my teaching in favour of the relationship. It worked well, he still learned at a reasonable pace even though we sometimes only had one 10-minute lesson a month.
(All that is past tense, a friend of mine offered to switch children for piano lessons and it is the most brilliant idea anyone has ever had.)
I’ve seen the reverse happen at school. One of our very active but somewhat pushy parents started a new business. We contracted with her as an outside vendor and she had a difficult time seeing the difference between being a parent and being an outside vendor. She burned a few bridges and severed many relationships in the process.
Last night I had to make a very difficult phone call to a friend of mine, a fellow parent in our small, close-knit class, and the parent of one of my students. I was worried I was creating a difficult, awkward situation, worried about causing a rift in the class, worried about overreacting or saying things I couldn’t take back. I prayed first, and other than a few runaway tears I stayed calm. She confirmed what I had been feeling and agreed with the decisions I had made. She then told me she considered giving me the same phone call toward the end of last year. Had either of us chosen to risk losing our friendship earlier, we’d both have been saved a lot of heartache.