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How to Deal With Difficult PTA Moms (With Dignity)

Aug 23 2014 - 12:00am

Welcome to our guide to Back-to-School Success [1]: 31 days of tips, apps, recipes, and more to help you make this your family's best school year yet. Today, day 13, offers advice for navigating the (sometimes choppy!) waters of your school's PTA.

Think that getting your kids geared up for the classroom is the toughest part of heading back to school? Think again! The true challenge is how to handle those sometimes not-so-nice PTA moms. We've all ended up in sticky situations with other parents before, and we'll all end up in them again. But our hope is that next time, you'll be well-prepared. Here, how to cope with five classic classroom mom types — with grace and ease.

The Judgmental SAHM

Whether you work in a high-powered corporate environment or have a flexible part-time schedule, juggling work and kids is no easy task. The last thing you need is judgment from a mom who can't relate to your situation.

How to Handle Her: Underpromise and overdeliver. Choose only the tasks or volunteer duties that you know you have time for, can handle, and can do better than anyone else. That mom who questioned your ability to do it all will be wowed — end of story!

The Judgmental Working Mom

If you stay at home with your kids, there's nothing worse than having to deal with a person who assumes that your 9 to 5 consists of mani-pedi appointments and soap operas.

How to Handle Her: Just say no! Sure, you should take advantage of your (relative) weekday flexibility and be an active participant in your kids' classrooms and schools, but you shouldn't feel obligated to run the show. If you've already got a jam-packed schedule, let it be known — an office setting isn't the only environment that can keep a mom busy!

The One-Upper

You know the type — for every idea you suggest, she's got one better. She takes the cupcakes you baked for your kid's birthday and trumps them an elaborate, three-tiered cake for hers.

How to Handle Her: Be confident in the value of your own contributions and ideas. If she interrupts and attempts to one-up you during a meeting or conversation, say, "Can you hang on just one minute? I want to finish my thought." If her contribution to the class event is intentionally elaborate and showy, compliment it, then move on — no big fuss required.

The Slacker

She signs up for every committee, offers to bake for every bake sale, and always falls through . . . each and every time. Her halfhearted participation means that the slacker mom is putting more work on everyone else, and she doesn't have a clue she's doing it.

How to Handle Her: Give her a gentle reminder the day before the obligation that she's signed up for. A friendly call, text, or email takes just a minute and will hold her accountable, saving you the frustration of having to compensate for her shortcomings.

The Know-It-All

You suggest a venue for the class fundraiser, she rolls her eyes and says it's old news. You volunteer to create flyers about a school event, she asks if she can approve them before you hit print. This mom is more about creating a dictatorship than a democracy.

How to Handle Her: Think of the most challenging item on your meeting (or year)'s agenda, and tell her that it's all hers. If she wants to flaunt her know-how, give her the opportunity!


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