Friday, September 23, 2011

Our Kids Must Learn to Advocate!

We had our school meeting yesterday to discuss reinstating Peter’s FM system. Peter attended the meeting with me, despite an email I received from the District’s Director of Special Services stating that, “This is a meeting with adults, not for your child. We will be addressing your concerns and questions with you. As Peter’s parent, how you choose to share that information to your son will be your responsibility.”

This comment got my blood boiling on several levels. Firstly, it set a confrontational tone for our upcoming meeting before we even met. Secondly, I don’t like being told by a stranger what I can and can’t do as a parent. Finally, this issue is 100% about Peter, and I, as his parent, do feel that he has every right to participate in any discussion relevant to him. Consequently, I went into the meeting already disliking this person. Thank goodness the Principal of Peter’s school attended the meeting with us. As parents, we are often too close to the issue at hand. Our emotions can quickly take over because these problems are personal in ways that those who do not walk in our shoes can’t possibly comprehend. I highly recommend having a knowledgeable voice of reason along with you!

We did not come to any resolution during our meeting. Many of the arguments were circular, and I don’t feel that any of my questions were answered. I did at least leave with more information and insight than I had going in as well as what our next steps will be in our attempt to reverse this decision. I asked Peter what he thought of the meeting, and he said that he didn’t really understand the conversation. I told him that I didn’t expect him to but that it was important for him to see the process. He witnessed a parent standing up for his rights, the expertise and support of his Principal, and the communication of adults disagreeing in a professional setting. I don’t regret for one minute that he attended our meeting. We must teach our kids how to advocate on their own behalf so that they will have those skills as adults.

I left our meeting with a deep sense of dissatisfaction. Later in the day, I immersed myself into drafting a summary letter of our conversation. As I know from experience, everything must be documented! Events like this leave me exhausted, and they consume a great deal of my time and energy. I felt uneasy and distracted all week leading up to this meeting. As Peter’s Mom, I have an extra obligation to fight for his rights. It’s just a shame that these issues consume so much of our precious family time.

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