Mother Knows Best #sol15

I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write for the past couple of days because my poor Charlotte has pneumonia!  It’s been a tough few days.  Unfortunately, having a very sick little girl was made even more difficult when faced with a doctor who wasn’t listening to us.  Without rehashing all of the details, suffice it to say that we had to fight with the pediatrician to do the chest x-ray and give us an accurate diagnosis.

The whole experience left me reflecting on how we simply do not value parent input or trust that parents know their kids best.  It’s true in medicine, it’s true in education, and it’s just not okay.  How many times have you heard a colleague complain about “that mom” calling again?  Or heard a teacher say that a child would be so much better off if the teacher could just take her home?  How many times have you seen educators get frustrated with parents for wanting more support for their student?  Or for pushing for a general education placement when the team thinks the student  belongs in special education.  You’ve maybe even said or thought these things yourself.  I’ve always connected well with the  parents of my students and considered them team members, but even I’ve had those frustrated thoughts.  I’ve thought that I’ve known better.

If being a mom has taught me anything it’s that parents, for the most part, are truly doing the best they can with what they know.  While there are always exceptions, most parents love their kids fiercely and will do whatever it takes to support them.  While I valued parental input on my students before I became a mom, it wasn’t until I had my girls that I truly understood what it meant to partner with parents.  I expect Evelyn and Charlotte’s doctors and teachers to listen to me, to value my input, and to recognize that I come to the table with a certain level of expertise that they just don’t have.  Becoming a mom has really helped me to walk in the shoes of other parents.  To see that the constant phone calls aren’t meant to annoy me, or that they aren’t disagreeing with me for no reason.  Being a parent myself has helped me see even more clearly how important it is for us to work together with parents and to see their questions and concerns for what they are: parents advocating for their children.

Parents are the experts on their children.  This doesn’t mean that as educators we don’t have expertise of our own.  Rather it means that we need to collaborate with parents and combine our expertise in order to provide the best support for each and every child.

 

Comments

  1. Parents are the child’s first teachers. Nobody knows the child better.

  2. Hmm… I find this an interesting read, and really appreciate that you speak from both perspectives of mother and teacher. I only own one of those roles – teacher – and I know I have had these thoughts before. Interestingly, as I read this, it seems you are saying parents trump teachers, and doctors. I completely understand that a parent has a level of expertise about their child, but I also think some parents where their parent-goggles, too, which could cause some great trouble. In your case, it seems you were right this time, and good thing you were the advocate you were. I am in the middle of a scenario right now where a mom is pushing for special education for her daughter who is in mid-elementary and transitioned from a language immersion program where she was never taught English – only in the other language. She has already grown 2+ years of reading skills in this 3/4 of a year…. Last week, the student and I were celebrating yet another goal she met, and in the middle of a celebration, she stopped in her tracks, looked at me, and said, “Do you think this will make my mom proud?” Ouch. I’m sorry, but this mom isn’t just advocating for her child. This mom is causing unnecessary stress to her poor little girl that is growing like crazy, and I feel so disrespected that my professionalism isn’t enough for this mom; that her expertise trumps mine, at the expense of her daughter’s social/emotional well-being.

    At the end of the day, I agree with the statement you made that we have to collaborate. Both parties need to find a middle-ground, for sure.

    • Hi Jen!

      I don’t think that the parent expertise necessarily trumps that of other professionals, but that it needs to be listened to as an equal partner. I’m sorry you are having such a frustrating experience with a parent. I have been there! I always try to come from the mindset that, for the most part, parents are doing the best they can with what they know. Parents aren’t perfect, but they do need to be considered valuable team members, even when we disagree with them.

  3. Sorry your child must still be sick. I miss your posts, but I know you’ll write when you can.

    • Thanks Laura. Now both my girls are sick! We had to take Evelyn to the emergency room on Thursday night. They are both doing much better now, so I’ve got some posts in the works!

  4. Well, I hope all are doing better now.
    I’ve missed your posts, but know how hard it is to parent, work and still write.

    Take good care of you, too!

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