Every Child Needs an Advocate – The Advocating for Children Series

Advocate- What does it mean?

I first want to take a look at advocate as a noun, pronounced ad-vo-ket. According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, an advocate is a person who actively supports or favors a cause.

My favorite synonyms for advocate are:  backer, friend, promoter, proponent, protagonist, supporter, true believer, cheerleader, encourager, fellow traveler

Used in a sentence:  Since I am an advocate for children’s books, my family reads every day.

Next, let’s look at advocate as a verb, pronounced ad-voe-kAte.  According to Merriam Webster is to promote the interests or cause of

My favorite synonyms for advocate are:  support, back, champion, endorse, assist, help, preach, talk, rescue, save 

Used in a sentence:  I advocate that my children develop a passion for reading because I believe it is the second most important thing I can teach them.

Be a Child Advocate

Parents as Advocates

In most situations, there is no better person to advocate on behalf of a child than their parent or guardian.

  • More than likely, no one cares about your child as much as you do
  • You know your child the best
  • You are responsible for your child
  • If you don’t speak up for your child, who else will?

 

When is it Necessary to Advocate for our Children?

It is the parent’s responsibility to make sure our child’s physical, social/emotional, and academic needs are being met. If these three areas are effectively covered, we are setting our child up to have good mental health.

Physical needs of children are described as nutritious food, adequate shelter and sleep, immunizations, and a healthy living environment. 

Parents have to decide whether to let our children deal with their own social or emotional issues or step in.  We have to try to know are they purposely excluded, is it drama or bullying, and when and how should I intervene.

Parents have to monitor situations that our children are involved in to ensure they are getting the services they have rights to or the services we were charged for.  

What Advocating Is Not

  • Being a helicopter parent
  • Fixing all problems for your child
  • Being a “hyper-paranoid everyone is against my family” parent
  • I will do whatever (illegal, fight, etc)  it takes for my child to get what they deserve
  • Arguing or fighting or cussing in front of your child to stand up for your child

    Be A Child Advocate
  • A constant focus on safety that makes us anxious and smothers our kids’ capacity for independence
  • Substituting your beliefs as an advocate for the beliefs of others.
  • Creating conflict for its own sake.
  • A chance to get even for past wrongs done to you.
  • An opportunity to make yourself feel powerful at the expense of others.

 

Independence – A 2017 Buzz Word

Raising independent children was one of the most popular trending topics in social media in 2017, and it is predicted to be even more so in 2018.  Just Google how to raise an independent child and you’ll get enough results to last you the 18 years you have to make them independent.  

I’ve followed this thread a lot this year, and I reflected on myself as a parent.  The statement that caught my attention was, “The greatest gift you give your kids is not what you do for them, but what you teach them to do for themselves.”  I fell in love with that, and I decided that I was going to be more intentional about having my boys do more for themselves.

It’s not that my kids can’t do things, it’s just that I was thinking that I was showing them my love by doing things for them.  I still do think that way.  Service = love for me.  I have communicated to them some of the things that I read about independence, and I said, “So if you notice that I am not doing as much for you, it’s because I want to make sure you can do it for yourself someday. It doesn’t mean I love you any less.”  They haven’t had any problem with it.

Be a child advocate

With all this being said, God created lizards to crawl out of the egg and take care of themselves. It seems to me if he wanted children to crawl out of the womb and take care of themselves, he would have made us that way.  I’m reading articles that seem to me some are throwing out the baby with the bath water.  This is common when there’s a trend

Children are developmentally ready for certain things at certain times.  It doesn’t mean they can’t do it until that age.  They can do a lot of the things earlier than developmentally appropriate, but it may be sacrificing other development or creating unnecessary emotional, social or physical stress that will come out in negative ways. Experts say, “Many parents never make the connection.”
See this: Age Appropriate Independence Guide

What does independence have to do with advocating?  It seems that some are so worried about creating independent children that they pass up opportunities where they needed to advocate for their children.  A “he needs to learn how to handle his own problems” mentality.  Yes, he does, but some situations require parental assistance.

 

Trust Vs. Faith

There are many Bible verses about trust, but none of them say to trust your spouse, yourself, your kids, the school, your doctor, your parents, the internet, or your neighbor.  They say to Trust in the Lord.  That is the only person we are commanded to trust.

Yet if we question anyone or say, “I don’t trust so and so”, others might say we have trust issues. We should!  WE ARE ALL HUMAN! If we are parents, rest assured, we will make mistakes on this parenting journey, and others will make mistakes with our children.

FAITH. Oh that word, so easily thrown around. Sometimes, so hard to do.  Especially when it comes to our children.  We’ve all read the quotes.  Max Lucado says, “Faith is not that God will do what we want.  Faith is the belief that God will do what is right.”   Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.”  

I bring up trust and faith because we can lean too far one way and trust that everyone has our child’s best interest at heart just like we do, and put them at risk.  We can lean too far the other and live in fear that something could happen to our child or someone do something to our child.  Then our child misses out on experiences that prepare him for life. There comes a point where we have to find a balance. Trust, Fear, Faith, Independence, Intuition.  We have to decide on the healthy balance that supports our family culture and stick to it.

What are the Qualities of a Good Advocate?

  • Find people around you who will help you if you need it
  • Know your rights and your child’s rights
  • Asks a lot of questions
  • Listen to what others have to say
  • Make informed decisions not emotional decisions
  • Take action to get what is best for your child, don’t settle for less
  • Is assertive but respectful and polite
  • Communicate clearly with confidence
  • Patience
  • Not afraid to go to the top branch if necessary (don’t use it as a threat)
  • Open-minded
  • If you’re getting the information second hand (your child), know there’s a chance it’s not true.  

Why I Decided to Research Advocacy

I have had issues where I have had to advocate for my children.  Before children,  I was a person who would let things slide to keep the peace.  A couple of years ago I made a promise that I would no longer throw myself or my family under the bus to keep the peace. 

So, I researched how to be an advocate for myself and my family in as peaceful a manner as possible. As a person who does not like confrontation, this is not always easy for me (panic attack mode), but I have managed to advocate for my kids every time I have seen the need. 

While I was researching about the parenting of really successful men, I quickly noticed that Bezos, Walton, Zuckerberg, and Job’s parents advocated for their interests and their schooling. Read Article Here

Lately, some of my friends and family have been sharing with me how they had to speak up for their kids’ sake, and it has got me to thinking how important it is that our kids see that we are on their side.  We will take up for them.  Kids have to know our family is a team. If we won’t stand by them, who will?

At the same time, I have had discussions with my mommy friends who are nervous to advocate for their kids and rightfully so.  What if you advocate for your kids and then the system mistreats them even more?  There’s a fine line, and it’s hard to know when and to what extent.

The Series

There is so much material on advocating for your children that I have decided to create a series.  The Advocates Series will include topics such as:  medical, school/daycare, family, in the community, TV, and more.  Lastly, I will wrap up the series with research-based tips on how to teach our children to advocate for themselves.

Be a Child Advocate

Stay Tuned

I am super excited about the series.  I hope you are looking forward to it as well.  In the comments below, briefly give an example of how you have had to advocate for your child.

 

Children’s Literature Recommendations

**We average a little over 40 children’s books a week in our household.  I will recommend our favorites.  Others’ reviews of the books may be read on Amazon.  Click the book to see it on the Amazon site. Just know that if we suggest a book, it is up against a lot of books, and we consider it 5 star!  You may be able to find these books at your local library or your local bookstore as well. I would like to add that I tend to be persnickety on what my children read as far as subject & language content, so you can rest easy on that!

**Footnote: Your children are never too old to read picture books. It’s really hard for me to put an age on books because I believe if the subject matter is ok, read it to all ages!

toys come home

I try to always have a chapter book going, and this toy series by Emily Jenkins is genius.  If your kids like their plush animals, this is the series for them.  The stuffed animals communicate when the humans aren’t around.  It’s humorous, heartwarming, and almost believable. Of course, I totally started acting like our stuffed animals did the same, and the boys went along with it 100%.  This series is appropriate for any age.  Jock had a meltdown when we returned the last book to the library and wanted to start the series over again.

 

Product Recommendations

*We own and have used everything that is recommended.

booklights

I have loved these booklights since day 1.  We have clipped them on to all sorts of things i.e. the bunk bed, forts, cabinets, crib, and books.  I like them so much I bought a pack and gave them individually with gifts.  We have been using them for nap and bedtime reading for almost 5 years.  Of course, we’ve replaced the batteries, but the lights work fine and have held up well.

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Quote: “The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence, but it is guaranteed to be greener over the septic tank.”  ~My ex-boss, Sandy Taylor, when I told her I was moving to another school. I will never forget this, and I have gone on to use it myself.  It’s true!

 

Tip of the Day:  If you have really dry hands or feet, in a disposable container, mix Vaseline with just enough baking soda to turn the Vaseline white.  Put a thick coating on the dry area.  If it’s your hands, then you will want to put rubber gloves on over it.  If it’s your feet, wrap them in plastic wrap like saran up to the ankles. Then put plastic grocery bags over that and tie them in a knot around your ankles for a no mess safety precaution.  You don’t want it to get on any flooring, especially wood. Leave it on for 2 hours. 

The skin is going to slough off until you have a smooth surface.  **Do not do your hands if you have someplace important to attend the next day.  The skin may still be sloughing. The drier it is, the longer it sloughs. I know it sounds gross, but the end results are worth it.

Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours!  Remember to have fun, laugh and give God the glory! I love you! SS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 comments

  1. Ohhh have I walked the halls at night over this topic. It’s NOT easy at all at times… other times, to advocate is a no brainer. Thank you for this Blog… Amen.

    1. Same here. I don’t know why I get anxiety about it. We try to make sure we get the best mechanic for our car. We have to demand the best services for our kids as well.