Parenting is a journey filled with equal parts joy and challenges. You want your child to have the best care and education possible, but if you don’t have the right knowledge, support or skills, the path ahead can be difficult.
Becoming empowered as a parent can help you find your voice as your kid’s caregiver, educator and advocate.
What Is Parental Empowerment?
Parental empowerment is a process where parents develop the skills and confidence to care for children with disabilities properly.
Educators and health care providers are the ones to implement strategies to empower parents as active participants in their young one’s education and care.
However, parents can also apply strategies to develop the right plan and gather support. This way, they can confidently take charge of their kids’ care, helping them thrive in all aspects of life.
Your Strategies for Parental Empowerment
Here are some strategies to empower yourself as a parent, and become a more involved and informed care provider for your child.
Exchanging information with your child’s teachers and health care providers is crucial to becoming an empowered parent. You must share important information about them that can help professionals provide the best care.
However, you should also seek out information about your little one. Ask for proper updates and reports as outlined by federal law.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandates teachers to provide regular reports about a child’s progress with their individualized education. Ensure you get those updates to know if you’re going in the right direction or need to modify your kid’s education plan.
Stand By Your Choices
Since educators and health care providers are professionals, there’s a misconception that they alone know what’s best for children. However, they are simply part of the team that cares for your child. Your input matters, too.
As a parent, you can exercise your choices regarding your kids. You can choose what school best suits their needs or who becomes part of their team. If you feel like your young one isn’t receiving the proper care, you also have the right to pull them out and seek better care elsewhere.
If you disagree with providers’ approaches to child care, don’t concede immediately. Let your side be heard and ask questions.
Being involved in your kid’s education and development can help you gain the tools to become an empowered parent.
Some parents can’t always be present due to work or other commitments. However, there are other ways to be involved.
You can constantly keep yourself updated about your child’s progress. Read through their grades and schoolwork to see if you can help with anything. You should make a point to attend parent-teacher meetings and attend important school events.
If there are any challenging circumstances, stand by your little one and help them get through it. The lockdowns showed families everywhere how hard it is to be thrust into an unfamiliar situation.
If any similarly difficult event arises, ensure you help build your child’s self-esteem, set and support actionable goals, and be proactive in resolving issues.
Build a Support System
You may feel overwhelmed as a parent and like you’re all alone. As you enter parenthood, you tend to disconnect slowly and lose touch with loved ones.
Thus, you may not feel confident about making decisions for your kid. Every parent needs a good support system — parents of disabled children even more so.
Keep your trusted loved ones close to you and build your support system. Additionally, try to reach out to other parents of disabled kids.
You can share stories and advice, and be each other’s strength. Building a community of support can help you feel more stable so you can give your best to your child.
Become an Advocate
Once you create a community with other parents, you can collectively use your voices to advocate for change.
On your own, voicing your concerns can be challenging, but collaborating with others can make your voices heard better.
As a parent, you can seek out existing groups to join or start one yourself. Be active in recruiting other parents and caregivers who want better accommodations for their disabled loved ones. Then, organize events where you can spread awareness about your concerns. Think about holes in the system.
What parts of the policy need to be updated? What programs can you start in your community to benefit people with disabilities?
Do Your Part in Changing the System
Aside from becoming an advocate, voting is another way to create the changes you want and need. Although there are laws protecting kids with disabilities, gaps still need filling.
Little ones need more protection, and the current regulations must be implemented and enforced more thoroughly. You can do your part to make that happen by exercising your right to vote.
Vote for leaders that aim to support and uplift disabled children. You and other parents can create change by voting, starting from the school board up to public officials. You can organize and raise your voices for your cause.
Empowering Yourself and Your Child
To help your kids thrive, you must first thrive as a parent. Feeling in control and confident about your decisions can be challenging, but it is possible through different strategies.
By being informed, involved and proactive, you can empower yourself as a parent and pave the way for a brighter future for your child.