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Parents evening etiquette: The handshake

(38 Posts)
woddayaknow Fri 24-Oct-14 12:05:40

Whenever we go to the first parents' evening of a new school year, I'm thrown by the fact that DH, who isn't at school very often, shakes hands with the (usually female) teacher and introduces himself by name. After a brief hot flush of indecision, instinct usually leads me to do the same, because it would seem rude not to - though I'm never sure of the etiquette of women shaking hands with each other, and I've usually spoken to the teacher a couple of times in the playground previously anyway.

Is it just me that worries about this sort of thing? What do other parents do?

Campaspe Fri 24-Oct-14 12:10:13

I'm never sure either, so I will watch this thread with interest.

BrianButterfield Fri 24-Oct-14 12:10:40

Ok, as a secondary school teacher, most parents don't shake hands - but I don't mind if people do as long as it's in a casual sort of way. Shaking hands with a woman doesn't bother me and people doing it because they don't seem to know what else to do is absolutely fine - it's an unnatural sort of situation and some awkwardness is understandable. I won't remember who did or didn't shake hands afterwards.

However there is a certain sort of Alpha Male Dad who always very firmly shakes hands and it's definitely a little power thing. Not often and I'm not suggesting your DH is one of these but they are usually a PITA type of know it all parent too. Especially if they do not, in fact, know it all. I will usually meet one of these each evening.

MissMillament Fri 24-Oct-14 12:11:27

I'm a teacher. I am happy to shake hands with parents, but I don't initiate it because not all parents may be comfortable with it. It wouldn't occur to me to distinguish between a man or a woman shaking hands with me - I am female btw. From parents eve experience, some do, some don't, but to me it comes across as friendly and open so a good start to the consultation.

Fitzers Fri 24-Oct-14 12:13:37

The etiquette of women shaking hands with each other? What's that about?

I'm a woman, I shake hands with other women if the situation seems to call for it. What is the issue here?

happygardening Fri 24-Oct-14 12:41:25

I always introduce myself (only my first name as my DS is usually standing next to me) and shake hands with teachers male or female but then I introduce myself to everyone like this in and out of work. It's never once crossed my mind not to do it. No teachers has ever looked uncomfortable. I've also never heard of any etiquette issues about women shaking hands with other women.

goinggetstough Fri 24-Oct-14 12:57:06

I agree with "HG" being a woman has nothing to do with whether I shake hands or not. IMO it is a polite way to greet another person.

honeysucklejasmine Fri 24-Oct-14 12:59:25

I take my cue from the parents. If they are chatty and relaxed I will offer a hand. If they seem nervous or stand offish I don't. If a parent offers, I always shake it. I always stand up to greet them too.

5ChildrenAndIt Fri 24-Oct-14 13:00:06

Away from parents evening - its an interesting point.

In a work scenario (which is almost always mixed sex) I shake hands indiscriminately.

In a less professional women only scenario.... shaking hands is a bit odd come to think of it... I'd normally greet a friend with a hug or a little wave - neither of which work for parents evening!

happygardening Fri 24-Oct-14 14:19:59

My parents always shook hands with people and I was taught to shake hands (and curtsey) properly at school when I was about 12. I've taught my DS's to do the same well not curtsey. I'm always feel awkward if people don't want to shake hands although in fairness few don't. I suspect my DH would be described as an "alpha male" he too was taught at prep and believes that it's just good manners and doesn't see it as "a little power thing" in fact we both see it as a gesture of friendliness.

Spooklingbrook Fri 24-Oct-14 14:41:29

I don't like shaking hands with anyone. I certainly don't feel the need to shake hands with teachers at Parents' Evening. Need to get cracking as you don't get long. grin

CindyLou Fri 24-Oct-14 15:07:03

As a teacher (secondary) I always stand up and greet the parents with a handshake, and by initiating it signals that I am in charge it is a professional meeting.
I also signal when it is time to finish by standing up and shaking hands.
Otherwise some would stay all night.grin
This was a trick I learnt from being a parent with DC at an indie where this is the norm.
I have not had a parents' evening in primary, but would expect tin that instance to shake hands with a parent I did not know (eg childminder) collects every day), but not those I see at the classroom door every day.

AChickenCalledKorma Fri 24-Oct-14 16:03:22

I'm a woman and I shake hands with men and women all the time at work. It's the conventional way to greet someone in a professional situation.

Don't agree with Brianbutterfield at all that it's a power thing. "Alpha Male" types have very probably come straight from work and think it's a totally normal thing to do when you start a meeting. Because it is!

ChippyMinton Fri 24-Oct-14 18:41:13

If you are comfortable shaking hands, then do it, if you are not, then don't.
I think it's plain good manners, personally.

ChillySundays Fri 24-Oct-14 20:38:46

As a parent I used to take lead from the teachers. Some would stand up and shake hands and others would stay seated

TheFirstOfHerName Fri 24-Oct-14 20:42:42

At DS1 & DS2's secondary school, every teacher stands up and shakes both mine and DH's hand.

At DS3 & DD's primary school, none of them do.


sassytheFIRST Fri 24-Oct-14 20:45:09

I remain seated but shake the hand of all parents. It's a polite and appropriate thing to do IMO. Has been etiquette at all of the schools I have worked in.

dippingbackin Fri 24-Oct-14 21:20:08

I always stand up and go for the handshake, however at the last parents' evening I had two fathers that would not shake my hand. That was slightly awkward, but obviously understandable.

On the flip side, we had a male teacher that wouldn't shake the hand of a student's mother. Caused all sorts of problems for him.

Coolas Fri 24-Oct-14 23:38:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheFirstOfHerName Sat 25-Oct-14 08:12:24

A lot of parents of children at DS1 & DS2's school are Muslims, and also a few of the teachers. So there might be some reluctance to shake hands with someone of a different sex.

One of my friends is in that situation, and she brings a folder to parents' evening and holds it with both hands (so no hands free). On meeting each male teacher, she gives a polite nod and then sits down.

homebythesea Sat 25-Oct-14 08:19:21

Shaking hands is the norm in any semi formal environment surely? And I think the shake can speak volumes about the shakee- a limp fingers only shake is just the pits and for me indicates all kinds of negativity. A full on firm shake is what you need!

Hakluyt Sat 25-Oct-14 08:28:22

Teachers at our school are expected to stand up and shake hands with parents, and to introduce themselves.

I still remember shaking hands with ds's enormous PE teacher forgetting that I had a just healed broken finger............

skylark2 Sat 25-Oct-14 09:48:28

Teachers at DS's school stand up and offer a hand to all parents present. There are plenty of Muslim parents - I haven't observed what happens, but I can't imagine them turning a hair if the hand wasn't taken.

They have their names on the desks, and parents were name labels. No time wasted on introductions as there's a strict 5 minutes per appointment policy (and a prefect in the corner ringing a little bell to enforce it).

All the Muslim ladies who I know at work shake hands with men and women just like everyone else. Hadn't occurred to me that it was an issue.

LaurieFairyCake Sat 25-Oct-14 09:55:42

I shake hands with everyone as that's the right thing to do etiquette wise

What I'm wondering about is whether it's always necessary in the street to take my very thin leather gloves off?

Anyone know?

TeaAndALemonTart Sat 25-Oct-14 10:00:05

Dippinback, why was it understandable that they wouldn't shake your hand?

I always shake.

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