Fighting the Good Fight

I’m a very mellow, non-confrontational person. Never one to rock the boat, I often find myself saying ‘yes’ to someone even if I really want to say ‘no.’ In the years since I’ve become a parent, I’ve discovered that even though I don’t often stand up for myself, I’m sure going to stand up for my babies.

I recall going to my daughter’s pediatrician and—calmly and politely—asking her to reconsider her opinion about my child’s speech delays and finally giving me the referrals I needed to get Zoe going with evaluations and treatment. Looking back, I feel silly about having agonized over talking to the doctor about this. I knew it was important; there was no way I wasn’t going to discuss this with the pediatrician. But the goody-goody girl in me had concerns about challenging the doctor. Ridiculous, I know. All the while my inner voice told me, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” So I asked, I got; and Zoe was on her way to getting the therapy she needed.

After my son was born, I found myself in yet another sticky situation. Forced to change pediatricians due to a change in health insurance, I came face-to-face with a new doctor who was more than opposed to my decision to not vaccinate my son according to the ‘normal’ schedule. Given the fact that Zoe—and several other family members—have had violent reactions to vaccines, my husband and I had chosen to delay and spread out Ayden’s vaccines. Our previous doctor was fine with that choice. I calmly explained to the new doctor the reasons for this choice…and she promptly refused to treat my son and kicked us out of the office. Sure, she certainly had the option of not taking him on as a patient, but her belligerent response really stunk. But I learned a valuable lesson: I can argue my point, someone can disagree with me, and the worst thing that can happen is I get kicked out of that person’s office. No one got hurt, and I moved on.

This week I found myself acting as my own attorney as I took on the county school board. The school board made a decision about my little guy’s school placement that would have made it impossible to keep my daughter at her present school—the same school she’s attended since Kindergarten, and the school where she receives services like speech. When I was informed of the original decision I immediately asked if I could file an appeal. I was told that there is an appeal process, but that I shouldn’t hold out much hope for success. Knowing that as parents we are our children’s staunchest advocates, I asked for the hearing. Fortunately everything went well, and the board approved my request.

So what’s the moral of the story? Listen to your inner voice. Never be afraid to speak your mind, especially when it comes to your kids. One of your most important jobs as a parent is being your child’s advocate. I still have a hard time asserting myself when it comes to things I need; but I’d go to the ends of the earth for my kids.

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