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Why should i learn how to be a better parent-advocate?

Most often, there is no person better to advocate on behalf of children than their parents or guardians.

You are often the best person to advocate for your child because...

  • You know your child better than anyone else
  • Not many people care as much as you do about your child
  • You are responsible for your child

If you don’t speak up for your child, who else will?

Thinking of Yourself as your Child’s Best Advocate

The following story was borrowed from the Advocacy section of the Ontario Association of Children’s Rehabilitation Services web site:

I remember being at a parent support meeting where we were introducing ourselves and hearing for the first time (when asked what she "did") a mother saying that she was her daughter’s advocate.  I was very impressed and thought "Ya- that's what you call what I seem to be spending much of my time on lately".

I think at that moment I stopped thinking of myself as "just the mother" or "Mum" (as some professionals insisted on calling me—even though I was not their mother) and began to think of myself as "the advocate".

It gave me a certain feeling of dignity and helped put me on more of an equal footing with those professionals that I encountered.  Even if that feeling of equality was only in my own mind, it was very powerful.

Thinking of yourself as your child’s advocate is the beginning of the process of becoming a good advocate.

You are Not Alone!

The first and most important thing you should know about advocating on behalf of yourself, or your child, is that you are not alone.  Your friends, partners, other family members, and people who work with community organizations can help you.

The links on this web site are a point of contact between your family and agencies in the community that exist to help you.

Don’t be Discouraged

Defending your rights and the rights of your child can be an uphill battle.  The public education system, like other public institutions (the health system or the justice system, for example), is a big bureaucracy with a lot of rules and a lot of power and resources.

Remember that many students and parents have faced the challenges that you are facing now, and have learned how to advocate for themselves and their children.

You do not need to learn all of the strategies and tools that we introduce to you on this web site all at once.

Many of the basic advocacy skills discussed on this web site are life skills that you can take with you when dealing with public institutions like the education system, the health system, and the justice system.

Even the best parent-advocates and self-advocates do not always find justice or the perfect solution.  A good parent-advocate, however, always has the satisfaction that they did the best for their children that the system would allow.

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