As a mom with a child with a minor disability, I have had to learn how to fight for my daughter, to become her advocate if you will. I think that one of the toughest things about being a mom is how absolutely connected you feel to your child – in thought, in action, in heart and mind…you love your child and hate to see them struggle through anything.
Struggling through those first few months of life with my little baby, I became frustrated with how no one seemed to care about finding out what was going on. I would hear “I don’t know what to tell you”, “We just aren’t sure”, blah, blah, blah. Finally I had had enough. My four month old baby was still in newborn clothes, and weighed maybe 8 lbs. She didn’t use her right side equally to her left, and I did not know what else to do. Finally, I became feisty. My daughter couldn’t tell us what was wrong, so I had to do it for her. I had to become her advocate – pushing to figure out what was going on. When I became my daughter’s advocate, things got done.
It doesn’t matter if your child has a disability, is struggling with school, has behavioral issues, or whatever, you have to be the one to step up; you must become their advocate.
Basic Tips for Becoming Your Child’s Advocate
- Know your child. You can’t be their advocate if you don’t know them. Spend time with them, observe their habits. Bond with them so they know you.
- Document Everything. I have a folder for absolutely anything and everything related to my daughter. Keep a journal of things to help you – you won’t be able to remember everything when you go meet with the doctor, principal, etc.
- Do your research. Read up on whatever your child may be struggling with. I’m a big fan of reading any books, articles, websites you can get your little eyeballs on so you get info/advice from all sources. Doing your research also includes researching different doctors/pediatricians (if this is a medical issue).
- Be firm. Or feisty, as I like to call it. A lot of people may seem too busy or stressed to really take the time to figure stuff out in regards to your child. Don’t be afraid to be a little pushy. I brought my daughter into the doctor at least 2-3x per week in the beginning stages and pushed until I got results.
- Know that you are the mom. By this, I mean trust in your motherly intuition. If you think your child is struggling with something, they probably are. If you think something is not helpful, or you feel it’s not right for your child, it’s probably true. You are the mom.
- Seek help. Don’t be afraid to seek help – professional or otherwise. There is no shame in using a professional counselor to help you sort out your feelings and stress. And who doesn’t call their own mom with questions or tears?
- Don’t forget about your significant other. You can’t do it without them. They need to be on board too. Take time for them, as well. The greatest thing parents can do for their children is to love each other.
- Ask Questions. Even if it seems mundane. Or complicated. Or even if it’s unrelated! Ask your child (if they can communicate), ask your doctor, ask their school teachers, ask your mom, just ask.
There have been countless times when I have thought “why me?!”. Ladies, this is a normal thought. But please remember that the reason that “it’s you” is because you can handle it. From a disability to being bullied to struggling with whatever, you’re their mom because you can handle it.