Believe in yourself as a parent. You are your child’s best therapist and advocate.
I regularly chat with professionals and families about the struggles many parents face to meet their child’s needs. They are worn out from advocating, and scared they are not doing enough.
I have worked with many parents over the past 20 years – in health, disability, education and child protection. Every one of them wants the best for their child. Each parent defines this differently. We each take our own personal experiences and create a version of “the best” for our children and our family.
For children with disability, parents are their child’s best therapist. They can embed skills and practice into a child’s everyday life. They can make “therapy” meaningful and can turn one hour of time with a professional into weeks of real-life learning.
A parent is a child’s best advocate because they are passionate and motivated. They understand the issues better than any professional could.
But to be the best therapist and the best advocate, parents need 3 things – resources, knowledge and capacity.
And this is where things fall apart.
Having all three is a constant juggling act. If we spend all of our time gathering knowledge, we can burn out and have no capacity. If we have great resources (ie services), we may rely on them too much and not develop our own knowledge.
The answer is finding a happy balance. It may look messy or like a constant battle. And it may look like a parent is just hanging on by a thread.
Remind them that they are their child’s best therapist, and best advocate. Support parents to find the right mix of resources, knowledge and capacity – rather than trying to ‘fix’ things.
Because when a child has a team around him, led by an empowered parent, he can live his best life – whatever that may be.