When taking on the role of an advocate for your child, it is important you develop a vision of what the future for your child could be. A clear vision will help you identify areas in your child’s life where their needs have to be addressed to reach that vision. For example, if you see your child participating in a sports competition, you may want to advocate for inclusive learning experiences when it comes to developing their physical abilities. If you see them working in a rewarding workplace, you may want to advocate for them learning skills to make them an asset to the workforce.
Begin to ask yourself questions like:
- What is my role in my child’s life?
- How do I want the community to view my child?
- How does my child contribute to the family, the community and society?
- How do I view my child’s gifts and talents?
Once you have answered these questions, it is beneficial to frame the answers in a way that will provide an understanding of your beliefs and values. For example, frame your answers like:
- I recognize that I am a constant in my child’s life.
- I believe I am an active agent responsible for change.
- I recognize my child’s talents and will promote their abilities.
- I believe a person with a disability is a valued member of the family, the community and society.
By framing your answers this way, you will affirm your personal beliefs, expectations and attitudes about your child and what becoming an advocate might mean for you.
Everyone develops personal beliefs and attitudes about certain topics, situations, or people from their own past experiences. As a parent, you need to address your feelings about particular topics and ensure that they do not interfere with your role as an advocate for your child. For example, you may have to face up to negative feelings you have about your own school experiences in order to best advocate for your child once their enter the school system. Building and maintaining good relationships with others will also keep you better informed when it comes to discussing issues related to your child. Finding others who can help you to better understand how different systems work is also a great strategy.
A very important part of your vision should be to see your child as a capable, developing human being. As a parent, the fundamental belief that you should have is “My child has right to_________ , the same as any other Canadian citizen”.