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Aibu to feel a bit disappointed in these parents?

(35 Posts)
Caitycat Mon 17-Jun-13 17:09:51

For several years I have organised a community theatre project in a local church which involves both adults and children. They rehearse separately and come together in the final week for the last rehearsals and performances. I do this totally voluntarily as do all the participants and the week of the performances is manic involving hours of preparation, painting, stitching etc. There is no charge to any participant.

All the adults involved work full time and are therefore missing family and rest time to participate. We love doing it and don't begrudge it at all but this week I must admit I've started to feel a bit resentful.

We have 36 children involved this year. I gave out a letter at the start of rehearsals detailing what they needed to wear (colourful tshirt, skirt/shorts/trousers in contrasting colour so nothing tricky), giving all rehearsal times and dates and asking parents to commit to helping during one of the six performances. I gave my email address and asked them to contact me directly if there were any problems.

This is the week of the performance. A huge number of parents have asked me what their child is supposed to wear and when reminded about the letter said oh yes but that was ages ago (April) we haven't got it anymore. I have been told this week that three children won't be coming to the Friday or Saturday performances which is going to really mess up the choreography. Several others can't make at least one of the three final rehearsals (the only ones where the whole cast comes together) - again none bothered to let me know before now. Only one parent out of the 36 has agreed to help out for an evening performance and three others are "checking their diaries" others have said they can't possibly because they have a younger child (understandable in a single parent household but they are not) or because "I work 9-5 so I need to rest in the evenings". I have had to ask my family and friends to come and help out as a favour because I would otherwise have to cancel.

AIBU to expect some participation and active engagement from parents who have allowed their child to do this activity (which they would provably have to pay for if they did it anywhere else)? Thanks for reading my tirade I always seem to use mn to moan!

SixFeetUnder Mon 17-Jun-13 18:06:48

YANBU Unfortunately I have no advice on how to make it better though. I have been involved in similar projects in the past and the moaning from other people (again parents) spoiled the whole thing for me and I am no longer involved.

I hope your performance comes together and when it's all over breathe a huge sigh of relief and vow never again and pour yourself a large glass of wine!

LaurieFairyCake Mon 17-Jun-13 18:10:13

I respectfully suggest you don't do it again unless you can do it without relying on parent 'volunteers'

We do a youth group (voluntarily for free) one night a week and wild horses wouldn't drag me out the house another night to help with a kids thing if my kid was in it.

Maybe all the parents also do one night volunteering a week ?

Picturepuncture Mon 17-Jun-13 18:13:16

Yanbu. At all.

paulapantsdown Mon 17-Jun-13 18:14:38

Its really not fair of these parents to not help out a bit. If this was a hobby I was paying for, then I wouldn't necessarily feel obliged,but saying that, my kids play for two footy teams, and lots of parents including me, all pitch in with time/effort for prizegiving and tournaments.

If I were you I would call their bluff, Write to them all saying that as no one stood up, you can't continue to do it alone and that's yer lot.

Let them pay a fortune for those overpriced theatre clubs.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Mon 17-Jun-13 18:15:13

Volunteers are just that, you can't force people to do these things, they may well have very good reasons for not volunteering.

It's the same with voluntary organisations the world over.

Emailing parents to request hekp never really works, I am afraid the only way I have ever got enough volunteers is by phoning each parent individually, much harder to refuse.

ApocalypseThen Mon 17-Jun-13 18:17:50

It wouldn't kill them to sort out an outfit though, and trying to have the kids at the performance if at all possible.

Svrider Mon 17-Jun-13 18:18:51

Sadly I think this is par for the course. My dd has been going to dance club directly after school for over (months). There around 75 children per week. They did a dance show at the weekend end 3 parents turned up!

Caitycat Tue 18-Jun-13 08:24:52

Well we had an interesting experience last night, the person who organises the children backstage has said she won't be doing it again as some of the parents were really rude to her when she told them they needed to wait and sign their child out before he/she could go home. The last child was collected over half an hour late and his parents said they had been finishing their drinks in the pub "we thought you'd probably overrun and we didn't want to be hanging around".

As we have loads of children involved we've decided to reduce it down to 20 next year who will be chosen based on their parents signing up at the outset to help put, provide costumes and assure attendance at every final rehearsal and performance.

I understand your point Laurie and this way should ensure that no parent is taken by surprise at the end by out expectations so you could explain to your child that this was one activity he/she was not able to participate in from the start. It's that or give up altogether I think and we don't want to do that as it is fundamentally a really good experience for everyone involved and makes a lot of money for local projects.

FasterStronger Tue 18-Jun-13 08:33:39

caitycat - Its really good what you have been doing. I am sorry the parents are taking the piss!

they seem to be treating you like a service they have paid for, or a free govt service, like school. the changes you suggest sound sensible.

sashh Tue 18-Jun-13 09:12:52

I work 9-5 so I need to rest in the evenings

What sort of parent would miss out on their child's performance through choice?

I would be tempted to take a deposit, in the form of a cheque to a local charity for, not sure what would be right, maybe £20 or £30. Don't bank the cheques

When the parent turns up to help they get their cheque back, if they don't turn up the charity gets a nice donation.

At uni I did an extra free course, but to make sure you turned up they did this.

Caitycat Tue 18-Jun-13 09:24:17

Sashh I love that idea will certainly give it some thought although we are a fairly affluent area and I don't want the payment to become the accepted alternative to helping out as we need them backstage! Most parents are dragging themselves out to watch it's helping out backstage (supervising the 36 children) that noone seems keen to do, I can understand that but I can't do it without help and we're talking about one two hour stint in return for three months worth of activity and an opportunity to perform which the children love.

Tee2072 Tue 18-Jun-13 09:30:37

Stop doing it for free.

People don't appreciate free things. I swear that's why state schools ask for snack/lunch/activity money.

EarlyInTheMorning Tue 18-Jun-13 09:38:29

What Tee said is exactly right. The fact that it is completely free makes people value it even less. I'd suggest you start charging even if it's a token amount, say £20 per term. You'll get far better commitment then.

Also, if your initial request doesn't produce any volunteers, then do what somebody else requested, ask individual parents to help out.

Finally, I would create a website or a Facebook page and place all updates and communications there so it is entirely up to the parents to stay informed. No paperwork to misplace, no excuses that they didn't know.

What you're doing is amazing and it creates community spirit. Sadly some people think that creating community spirit is up to others. Good luck!!!

Sparklymommy Tue 18-Jun-13 11:42:13

OP can I ask a question you might not like? Are all these "backstage helpers" vetted? Do you have licensed chaperones or at the very least crb checks for everyone who is involved with the children? I ask this as a licensed chaperone and knowing that it can be tricky. However it is very important to make sure safeguarding the children is a top priority.

At our kids dance school ALL backstage helpers need I have a current CRB check (even the men opening/closing the curtains). Children are signed in and out and we have emergency contact details (ie a mobile number) so if there is a problem we can get hold of someone. Parents without crb checks are not allowed past the stage door and children are not signed out unless a parent or named adult that has already been nominated is there to collect them.

Tee2072 Tue 18-Jun-13 12:30:53

I was under the impression CRB was only necessary if the people were going to be alone with children. This sounds like masses altogether.

Sparklymommy Tue 18-Jun-13 12:39:01

As a licensed chaperone I am NEVER alone with any child other than my own. Where there are children in a show they should always be under the supervision of vetted adults, and should Never be in the same changing room as adults. Children should be chaperoned to and from the stage, should have their own separate toilet and it should be 1 chaperone to 12 children.

Tee2072 Tue 18-Jun-13 12:57:18

That's really rather sad, since all a CRB proves is you've never been caught, but if they are going to use them, they should trust them.

Sparklymommy Tue 18-Jun-13 13:08:35

Our dance school has a rule that no one is allowed backstage without a crb check. However we also have a handful of licensed chaperones. Therefore it tends to be 1 chaperone and a couple of crb checked parents per dressing room. A chaperone has been through the vetting system, had training and is aware of all the legalities. My previous post may be a bit emphatic, obviously occasionally I am the only one in the changing if for example the other helper is on toilet duty or whatever.

If you use children in productions then this is a legal requirement, for the safe guarding of those children, and for you own safety too. It doesn't matter if the production is a little village panto or a grand professional production.

I do not see what is sad about that? I have chaperoned for amateur productions, professional productions and school related things. Backstage helpers need to be vetted, and children need to be protected. Just look at the Jimmy Saville case, no one wants a repeat of that!

lainiekazan Tue 18-Jun-13 13:17:36

Poor OP. she organises a show for free, gets no help, and now she's being accused of dereliction of duty by not vetting parent helpers.

Sparklymommy Tue 18-Jun-13 13:33:04

I am not accusing her of deriliction of duty, I'm aware that she may not be aware of the legalities involved. As she has yet to respond to my enquiry herself she may very well have crb checked helpers and chaperones.

My point is that there are proper procedures that need to be adhered to when it involves children. If she doesn't know then she needs to find out her responsibilities, and implement safeguarding for the children in her productions.

WilsonFrickett Tue 18-Jun-13 13:39:50

Honestly? If most of the children involved are affluent, take £40 off the parents, buy in the costumes and hire chaperones. It's still massively cheaper than a term in theatre school would be and if parents moan, say it's because of the issues last term.

CerealMom Tue 18-Jun-13 13:41:05

Iainiekazan - I agree, poor OP.

Selfish parents and mountains of paperwork. No wonder more people don't offer to do/help with activities for kids.

I help out at my local scouts. For summer camp my DH has to be crb (or whatever it is now) checked. He's coming to camp with me and DS, not 'help' with the scouts or leaders - just camp.

WilsonFrickett Tue 18-Jun-13 13:48:13

Cereal while I absolutely agree about paperwork etc, I think as a parent if I found out someone's P was coming unofficially to a camp simply to avoid being CRB'd I would think that was very dodgy indeed. I'm not suggesting you are in any way of course! But you can't have random hangers-on popping up at camps.

claraschu Tue 18-Jun-13 13:50:05


Rules like this will make any kind of community activity completely impossible. I am horrified that you mentioned this, and that people who think like you would probably complain and close down the OPs theatre group. Do you honestly think that someone is going to molest a child backstage in the company of 36 other kids and with lots of other adult helpers and participants milling around?

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