That Parent

by Jodifur on January 29, 2012

I was talking to my friend Corey the other day about an issue going on in my life right now, and how to handle it, and he said this to me, "you will never regret advocating for you child."

I am an advocate in my profession.  And I am very good at it.  But when it comes to my daily life, I don't always take the advocate role.  Part of it is a fear of being seen as "that parent."  The one who screams and yells.  The one who makes mountains out of mole hills.  I also believe, maybe wrongly, that people have my child's best interest at heart.  The most people want to help.  That most people want to do the right thing.

I'm learning the hard way that that is not always true.  Some people do not have my child's best interest at heart.  Sometimes bureaucracy controls, or personality, or good old fashion anger.  Some people simply don't know what to do.  Some people, are simply wrong.  

I made a difficult phone call last week.  A phone call some people had been urging me to make for a while now, and in all honesty, I probably should have.  But I feared making an untenable situation worse.  But I got to the point where I wasn't sure it could get any worse.  And the person suffering the most was Michael.

I became "that parent."

20 years from now Michael is not going to remember the ins and out of exactly what is going on right now.  And I may not either.  But I always will be able to look at him and say "I advocated for you.  I was your fiercest advocate."  And that is the most important thing.

{ 17 comments }

Headless Mom January 29, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Yes, that is the most important thing. xo

Gray Matter Matters (Betsy) January 29, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Jodi–you hit the nail on the head. You will never regret advocating for your kid no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel in the moment. You may, however, regret not doing it. Michael will be fine and you’ll be the reason. :-)

Elaine January 29, 2012 at 8:27 pm

I think one thing all moms want is for our kids to know that we have their backs – no matter what. Sucks feeling like you have to intervene, but good for you for doing it. Hope things work out.

Mom On A Line January 29, 2012 at 9:14 pm

As a mom who has to advocate for my child every day and stand up to people who should have the best interests of my child at heart (and usually do), I say good for you. It is hard to do it, especially when you don’t know the ramifications it will have. As lawyers, we may be more aware than others that sometimes opening our mouth is not the right answer. It’s okay to be THAT mom. More to the point, your reluctance to be THAT mom makes it clear that you are *not* THAT mom, but just a good mom.

Stimey January 29, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Good for you. You’re the only one who purely has your child’s best interests in mind. I think it’s okay to be that parent sometimes. :)

Stacy January 29, 2012 at 10:12 pm

It’s taken me two years to become comfortable being “that mother”, sometimes it’s still awkward and I know people stare and whisper but I also know I’ll never regret doing right by my kid. I’m proud of you.

TwoBusy January 30, 2012 at 9:36 am

What everyone else said? Seconded. Energetically.

Corey Feldman January 30, 2012 at 9:49 am

Thank you for the link and thought. Lots of people have good intentions for your kids, but I agree with Stimey, you are the one keeping their best interest in mind. I think this is even more so in institutional bureaucracies. Even the best of people working in those environments can get lost in the day to day and forget the real mission.

Life of a Doctor's Wife January 30, 2012 at 10:19 am

I’m sorry you had to deal with a situation that made this necessary. But I agree with everyone – you did good.

Jessie January 30, 2012 at 10:19 am

I am right there with you in the boat of believing that people have the best interest in heart for my child. I some how keep stumbling back into that naive way of thinking even after people have proven me wrong Good for you- for making the call.

Missie January 30, 2012 at 11:17 am

Long time reader-first time commenting.
I am having a similar situation with my son who is a year younger than Michael. We are having the kindergarten year from hell similar to what you had last year. I am not a person to rock the boat and really didn’t have to with my older son. But I am going to have to. The end of last week was horrible. Yesterday he told me that his stomach hurt and that it would still hurt this morning, so he couldn’t go to school.
I breaks my heart that he’s having this problem in kindergarten. I have to speak up, but it scares the crap out of me. I understand. Good for you!

Cath January 30, 2012 at 11:19 am

I’ve never been the kind of person who finds it easy to stand up for things (which is probably one of the reasons I’m not using my law degree). I WANT to be the kind of mom who advocates for her kid, but I think I have a lot of learning to do before that happens. I hope I CAN learn how to do it by the time I find I need to.
Thought-provoking post! Thanks.

Jessica @FoundtheMarbles January 30, 2012 at 11:33 am

Good for you! I am the mom of a child with potentially life-threatening food allergies, so I know what it’s like to be a somewhat reluctant advocate. When he was too young to advocate for himself I tried to walk that fine line between advocate and “that mom” because I didn’t want it to reflect on my son, on me or on other parents in the same situation. Now he is a little older it is easier to know when to step in and when to let him take the lead.

Mama Bub January 30, 2012 at 3:57 pm

I’m not a person who likes to rock the boat. I like to fade into the background and not stand out for being the one who’s making a scene, who’s making the situation all about her. BUT! I have kids now, kids who don’t have a voice and I have to be their voice. You won’t regret being that parent. It’s totally necessary sometimes.

julie/just precious January 31, 2012 at 10:57 am

I love this. Because I am so like you. I can write and write and talk and talk about how important it is to advocate for your child and that no one else will do it but you. BUT. When it comes time to do it myself? I sit on it. I’m currently sitting at my desk with paperwork next to me that I KNOW I have to say something about. And I can’t get it off my mind. But the “what ifs” are going crazy because I want to make sure I advocate correctly. Ironically, I won’t advocate at all unless I just do it.

April January 31, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Reading this immediately reminded me of this post I wrote for Parentella: http://blog.parentella.com/2010/confessions-problem-parent/ that got great feedback from both parents and teachers. Some may see you as that parent, but most will appreciate your perspective.

Angel February 1, 2012 at 10:18 am

A song lyric comes to mind : “Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same”. I completely know what you mean by not wanting to “be that parent”, and I hate being put in that situation where I have to speak up and stand up for my child, and sometimes I feel like I’m making a big deal out of something that was minor in the first place. But in the end, we are our kids’ best advocate, and the only ones who truly have their heart in the right place as far as our kids are concerned. I hope this call you made is the answer to the problems you’ve been having. Sometimes, we just have to forget about the “what if” and the looks and whispers, and just go for it, and I find it easier to do when it comes to my child’s well being and rights being respected. You are an awesome mom, Jodi, and you can only do your best to do what’s best in your child’s interest.

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