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Introduction I 7 Children Come with Families Caring for Parents Too As a new teacher, I quickly accepted parents as the ones who were required to bring in the extra set of clothes, bake cupcakes for school parties, and turn in field trip permission slips on time. I liked the parents who brought in extra cupcakes for me to eat, gave me money or gift cards for holidays or for no reason at all, and followed all the rules. The parents who asked lots of ques- tions, went crazy over lost pacifiers, and constantly hounded me about more academics were not my favorites. I thought parents were supposed to listen to me and do what I said, since I was the teacher. I was wrong. After many years of experience, I still become annoyed by some parents, even though I’m no longer in the classroom. I also understand parents a bit more, having been a parent myself for more than fifteen years, and now I realize that my job is all about teaching and caring for children and their parents, even if they didn’t tell me that in college. Even more important, I know that caring for parents in a real partnership is best for children. You may play a role in a child’s life for a few years or maybe even up to age eight, but parents play a role in their child’s lives forever. It’s the job of early child- hood professionals to take care of parents too. partnering with families Ever play teacher when you were a child? Did you line up all your stuffed ani- mals and dolls, even your younger brother, and play school for hours? Many early childhood professionals admit to playing teacher as the main focus of their imaginary play when they were young. And now here we are, early childhood professionals, doing the real thing with real kids. Yet when I look back on those fond memories of playing school, I never remember having stuffed animals that represented the parents. In fact, when I was an under- graduate about a hundred years ago, I don’t even remember courses about working with the parents. As an early childhood educator of young ones, however, I quickly found out that working with parents is as much a part of the job as working with kids, only the kids are cuter. Although I didn’t bargain on the parents being a part of my role as an early childhood teacher, I did realize that every child has parents and someone has to bring them to school, especially since they can’t drive and some of them can’t even walk.