It wasn't personal. Many of the children's parents were perfectly pleasant - and those that weren't all that nice were sometimes easier to deal.
The problem was that the parents were incredibly demanding and they didn't prepare us for that during teacher-training:
I was trained to teach children.
I was not equipped to support families.
It was exhausting and miserable.
Over the years fellow teachers taught me how to be unavailable at the beginning and end of school, stipulating that parents must book an appointment to speak with me. They taught me how to manage parents' demands and how to signpost them to other services. We arranged specific days and times to welcome the parents into school for open classroom sessions and information evenings. Then we moaned that the parents didn't bother to attend.
One day something happened. An angry mother cornered me at the classroom door just before the school day began. Children were milling around hanging up their coats and school bags.
I didn't see her coming - she was just suddenly there. And she let rip.
Waving a reading record in my face and speaking in a very-loud-almost-screaming voice she said, "You have not been hearing my daughter read every day! You have not signed the reading record this week!"
Luckily, by nature I am absolutely not a confrontational person. So although I was terrible at managing the parents I was at least able to defuse a scary situation. "I can totally understand why you think that, and I'm so sorry I haven't signed the reading record myself this week. However I can promise you that within our daily phonics lesson I have heard your daughter individually read sentences and texts every single day this week, and my extremely experienced assistant has also heard her read individually and has signed the reading record."
The parent took a great big sigh, apologised and told me she had a lot going on in her life and was therefore (wrongly) venting at me. We hugged (although I was still terrified!) and we actually got on really well after that incident.
The reason I'm telling you all about my hatred for parents and the story of the scary parent is that these things all helped me to form the opinions I have now and the conclusions I came too.
So as I gained experience, maturity and insight I discovered (mostly through trial and error, and through self-reflection) the key to supporting families effectively...
At the centre of everything you do as a teacher are the children that you teach. As their teacher, you do far more than just teach... you care. Supporting their families is just a wider part of the job. But it is a crucial part of the job. Get it right and you will reap the rewards.