I’m Her Voice

  1. Jo says:

    Wow great post I could not agree with you more.
    Turning a blind eye to avoid uncomfortable situations is never a good thing.

  2. Thank you for writing this. Zoe had some difficulties with a certain child at school. It’s so hard to decide when to step in and help your child… and when to let them figure it out for themselves. I also find it hard to face confrontation… so it’s a fight not to just let it go.

    This…. this is perfect…
    “I am my childโ€™s advocate. I am her voice when she canโ€™t find the words to state a problem on her own. And if I canโ€™t find the courage to speak up on her behalf when she needs help, who will?”

    • Anonymous says:

      I try to strike a balance. I don’t want to intervene when she really can handle it herself and when it’s between her and another child, there’s a fine line to deciding when to step in and when to let her handle it.

      I think ultimately, though, you “just know.” Go with your gut. If it feels like it’s more than she can handle, help her out. ๐Ÿ™‚ You’ll be glad you did in the long run, even if you’re uncomfortable in the moment.

      • Ehobbins says:

        Everytime I have to go to bat for my children. I firmly tell myself, “I have lots of friends, but only 2 children”.
        And that’s it, I’ll be polite, I am reasonable, but these are MY children. So, no-ones comfort, especially my own, can justify, not speaking up. If this makes me unpopular, so be it. I’m not heliocopter mum, it happens rarely, but as I see it, anyone who would willingly mess with mine, is never gonna be my friend. In your case, a nice man learned that some children need more distant handling, Punky learnt that mommy has her back. Your spine got a little more steely.

  3. kATE says:

    what a great post! It is so true…God has given us these precious gifts, we need to be good stewards of them, their feelings as well as their physical bodies. What a great reminder!

  4. This post made me cry! It is so true, yet it is so hard to speak up. My problems came this past year when my son was diagnosed with cancer, and had to do endless medical test, exams, treatments, and hospital stays. There were some things that were just unnecessarily painful for him because they were done wrong, dosages that I noticed weren’t the right dose, or Nurses and doctors who just did things to him without preparing him for them. There was even one who did a completely useless and hugely painful procedure while my son was awake, and then explained that he didn’t really need to do it, but he wanted to do it again later because despite how much pain it caused my son, he thought he could console him with candy. What?!

    At these times, my son would look at me and silently beg me to do something, and I knew he felt uncomfortable or was in pain. And–even then–it would take all the courage I had to say something. I think we are raised to see medical professionals as people who just always know what they are doing, when in reality, they make a lot of mistakes too. I’m still struggling with this, but it’s getting easier to tell someone to stop what they are doing, and to let them know that I’m not comfortable with them touching my son…or at the least, to ask for a little privacy while I prepare him for what’s to come.

    I hope lots of people read your post and take it to heart, because it is so true. If we don’t stand up for your children, NO ONE ELSE WILL. So thank you for this. (And I’m glad Punky is able to go to day camp and be happy now.)

    P.S. For the record, these bad experiences are NOT the norm. We’ve had so many experiences at the doctor and hospital, that these are just the minority.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are in such a difficult situation, Penelope. I can’t even imagine how difficult that must be for you, from this perspective and so many others. Hang in there, friend!

  5. NancyB says:

    Great post – I think you really helped to make Punky’s last two days at camp much better and I bet the counselor’s too! I think regardless our age or status as adults, when we work with kids we need to realize there’s not a “one size fits all”. Even as an adult I hate when I’m trying to have a conversation with another adult and they treat what I’m saying like it’s funny when I’m being serious about questions I’m asking them.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks, Nancy. I did think it might help him too to know that the over-the-top persona might not work with every 7-year-old. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks, Nancy. I did think it might help him too to know that the over-the-top persona might not work with every 7-year-old. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Sarahq1977 says:

    I was like Punky- still am. Thank you for speaking to the teacher- I still get very uncomfortable with people who employ “antics” to win you over. My parents would never speak up for me, told me to quit being so shy. You can not change your personality to suit those around you. You are a wonderful mum- and an inspiration. Also- I love the new blog design!!

  7. Boricua_keya says:

    Thankfully I’m not there yet but when it is time I’m sure I’ll feel the same way. That’s why we’re the parents & we have to make sure our children are comfortable & safe, no matter where or how old they are. You done good kid ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Miriam says:

    Go You! You’ve figured out something some parents never do. As the mother of a child with an invisible disability – Sensory Processing Dysregulation – I gave up being embarrassed or nervous about intervening a long time ago. I would have loved to be able to let things slide, let him take the fall, tell him to suck it up. It would have been SO much easier. Except, you know, for the part where my son would be slowly dying inside. (And possibly outside, he was passively suicidal when he was seven.)

    People frequently say to me, “I can’t believe the lengths you are willing to go to to advocate for your son.” Honestly, it always confuses me. To me, there was never any other option. My son is different but he is not defective. He is worthy of support and defense and deserves the same chance to function and be happy my neuro-typical daughter does.

    To me, that’s the most important thing you taught Punky, she has value and is worth protecting. She doesn’t have to take on the world alone. She has at least one fearless ally – her Mom. So, yeah, Go You Mom!

    • Anonymous says:

      Good for you, Miriam!

      My mom thinks back now about the mother who was “the squeaky wheel” at my school when I was growing up. She said she was irritated by her back then, but now in retrospect, that mom’s girls always got what they needed. She now wishes she had been a little “squeakier.” Personally, though, I remember my mom always stepping in and fighting on my behalf whenever I needed her to. She wasn’t shy!

      I don’t want to be annoying about it. I want to be nice and respectful. But I also don’t want to be silent when the situation calls for a voice. This post is as much a reminder to me as anyone else! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Miriam says:

        Oh yes, balance is really important. Even with my son sometimes he’s just being a toad. It’s just important to eliminate the other possibilities first.

    • Ruth says:

      Miriam, A have a just about to turn 3 year old with SPD. I am just now learning how not to be embarrassed and stick up for my little girl. She responds so well when she knows mommy is in her corner ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. This act alone shows Punky you have her back. Great Job Mom!

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks, Mary! I do hope my daughter will remember me as always stepping in when she really needed me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. andrea.dodge says:

    I totally get it…I’ve always thought of myself as a “take no prisoners” sort of mama, but there have been a couple of times where I got that “don’t want to upset the apple cart” feeling. Which then made me so mad at myself for being weak & wishy washy that it spurred me into action. Great work Mama Bear!!

    • Anonymous says:

      I have always regretted NOT speaking out. I have never regretted speaking out. Not in the end. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Lisa D Acord says:

    Well I’m glad you said something, because even if he is totally harmless, he seems creepy to me. The forehead-to-forehead thing seems inappropriate and weird. It reminded me of a trusted relative I had who attempted something that I knew was wrong, even if I didn’t know what it was or how to voice it. Luckily, I got away before anything major happened. I think kids pick up on things that adults try to explain away, but it all boils down to trusting your instints, and if Punky was bothered by this man–no matter what the reason–you have to intervene. Good job, Lindsay!

    • Anonymous says:

      I thought about that too, Lisa, but I have to say that after I spoke with this guy, he made a point at the end of the week of coming up to me, telling me how much he enjoyed having Punky in his class, and speaking to her and solemnly shaking her hand. He was also very forthright with my husband when he took Punky to camp.

      In all my experience with potential pedophiles (and there have been a few throughout the years, both when I was a kid and as a stepmom), when confronted, these guys will avoid parents at all costs if they’re up to no good. Once we called that assistant coach on his behavior, for example, he could never look us in the eye again. That said a lot to me about his intentions.

      My gut tells me this teacher is harmless- but I’m glad I said something because if I were somehow wrong, I believe Punky would not be his target. Why bother with the girl whose mom is getting in your face at the first sign of trouble? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Kimberly says:

    This is great advice. Thank you for sharing. I am so often reminded of (or learn) important things from this blog. You are doing a great service ๐Ÿ™‚ I remember my own usually shy and not much of a boat-rocker mom standing up for me on more than one occasion when I was little. It really meant a lot to me because I knew it was unusual for her to speak up so her actions made me feel very loved and very cared for. You have reminded me to do the same for my own child when the time comes. It is so important even if it can be so uncomfortable.

    • Anonymous says:

      I feel that way now about my own mom. She always stood up for me, and even though it was sometimes embarrassing, I knew enough even as a kid to realize that it was beyond my capability and I NEEDED her to handle certain things for me.

  13. I really, truly love this. And I wholeheartedly agree. I’ve had to go to bat for my children more times than I can count, and will always continue to do so, even if it gets ugly. Lovely post, Lindsay.

  14. Such a great post! This is an area I really struggle with, partly because my son, exactly Punky’s age, almost never talks about what happens to him at school or camp. But my husband (a child therapist, so there you go) is more successful at drawing him out, and was able to talk to his teacher this year about some harassing behaviors that were happening to our son at school. I know it made my son trust us so much more to know that we were willing to go out of our comfort zone on his behalf.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have a hard time getting Punky to articulate problems, too. I often go more by how she’s acting than by what she’s actually able to tell me about the situation.

  15. Nicole says:

    So true! We (our family as well as other families) had a real issue with a teacher at my son’s nursery school. Amongst other things she had no control of the classroom, kids were getting hurt by other kids, and safety was a real concern. All the parents were up in arms about it, talking about it in the parking lot, sending emails and phone calls etc. but out of all of those parents only our family and one other spoke up! I was furious. This was not a case about not wanting to complain at a restaurant when the waiter gets your order wrong, this was about their kids. So yeah, the director of the school had a hate-on for us and the other family for the remainder of the year because we spoke up but I didn’t care. I simply couldn’t have lived with myself if I did nothing. This happened last year and I am STILL STUNNED at how few parents will stick up for their kids.

    • Anonymous says:

      Get used to it, Nicole- I can’t tell you how often this has happened to us while raising my stepdaughters. I am shocked by how few parents are actually willing to rock the boat when it comes down to it. It’s depressing, actually. But I’m glad I’m armed with the knowledge that it’s going to be solely up to ME to protect my kids- I will never assume that a situation is good or safe just because everyone else is letting their kids do it.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I agree with you. You are your child’s advocate. No one else will be their advocate but you.

    We love our kids schools but if there is an issue (which is infrequent) we discuss it with the teacher first, but if we feel uncomfortable with directly discussing the specific issue with the teacher (our first child had a substitute for a quarter that gave us a poor first impression of herself), we took it up with her supervisor.

    Things improved after that.

    Never be afraid to advocate for your child.

    That being said, don’t do it every 5 minutes, or it ends up less effective.

  17. Ruth says:

    What a great post. I struggle with this, since I am usually the fly on the wall that doesn’t want to be seen or heard. Having my little one has really pushed me out of my comfort zone.

  18. Jackie Hall says:

    When you said he put his forhead to hers, I felt sick inside. I’m proud of her for telling you she wasn’t comforatable. Most likely he was just trying to draw her out of her shell but, So not worth the risk!

    • Anonymous says:

      I know! Having raised two stepdaughters now and seen some questionable behavior over the years, I’m VERY sensitive to that kind of thing. I try not to be overly sensitive, but I think I made the right “first step.”

  19. Via says:

    I have an older special needs sister who functions around two years old mentally and my Mother really is her voice. I can’t tell you how many times she’s stood up for her. It can be a scary thing to do especially when your up against doctors and school boards but you do what you gotta do to protect your children. When I read this post I was reminded of her and that just goes to show how brave I think you were! ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Christysduke says:

    It is a tough line. And I really, really struggle with advocating for my daughter. There has been a time or two when I have done it, but dreaded it.

    For the most part, I have not had to yet, but when push comes to shove, I know that I will. But I will fret over it


    I will say, though, that no one wants to be the mom to call the school board when the orchestra doesn’t get sweepstakes at UIL contest.

    or the mom that calls up college professors.

    • Anonymous says:

      I know what you mean, and I will NEVER be that mom! ๐Ÿ™‚ I call that the “get a life mom.” I agonize over when to step in and when not to. The thing that I’ve had to acknowledge is whether I’m not stepping in because it’s a good time to let Punky handle something on her own- or if I’m not stepping in because it’s awkward/uncomfortable for me.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I am grateful to read you heard your daughter and talked to this man. Even though your gut tells you this many truly is harmless, not speaking to him could have caused your daughter to loose faith in you. Why would she come to you and tell you if someone else were trying to bother her had you not taken her serious this time? By enduring some embarrassment yourself, you have gained much trust from your daughter. She has walked away from this experience with knowing mommy loves her and will always stand between her and someone making her feel uncomfortable. What a blessing! It is our job as mother’s to endure the uncomfortableness of having to confront someone for the sake of our children. When my oldest daughter was in the 2nd grade she was being bullied by a classmate. So much so, it caused her to lay in the floor in a panic at a store one day because I refused to buy this little girl bracelets. I followed the chain of command. I went to the teacher, and the girl didn’t stop even after the teacher spoke to her. The teacher went to the school counselor, and the girl didn’t stop even after her mother being called in for a conference. The counselor went to the principal. The principal came to me and told me I was going to have to learn to allow my daughter to fight her own battles, and she was going to have to learn to cope. I almost came across that principal’s desk, but somehow, by the grace of God, I didn’t. However, I did inform her that I did agree my daughter was going to have to learn to fight her own battles, but when those battles started making her physically sick, it was my job as her parent to step in. I also informed that my daughter never had to learn to cope with straight up bullying, and it was her job as a principal to see that my daughter was being protected and kept safe while in her building; not only did she have a moral and ethical obligation to do so, she also had a legal obligation. That principal hates me to this day. I don’t care. After that day my daughter was never bullied again. She can hate me all she wants. My daughter’s safety is more important to me than her, or anyone’s, approval. You did the right thing. You did the right thing for your step-daughters and you did the right thing for you daughter.

  22. Gertie says:

    I figure my job is to protect my children. My job is not to protect the feelings of care givers. My job is not to protect myself from embarressment. My job is not to protect my own tendency towards shyness/go with the flow. It’s just to protect my children. It’s not always an easy job. It’s not always a comfortable job. It’s not always a people pleasing job. But it’s my job. I took it the day I become their mother and their wellbeing depends on me being good at it.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Great post. Yes, we must speak for our children. They have pushed me out of my comfort zone so many times and I hope they continue to do so.

    Thanks for using your voice.

  24. julie1916 says:

    granted, I am pregnant, but this made me cry. Thank you for loving your daughter this much.

  25. Michelle says:

    Thank you for your post. Just this morning, I was confronted with a situation where I had a choice between standing up for my child or being polite to a stranger. I know the right decision now.

  26. Lynn says:

    Absolutely! I have a very serious child also that certain things would bother her and I always spoke up for her.

  27. Nancy @Family on Bikes says:

    Good for you for listening to your child! It’s hard to know when we should step in and when not – but sometimes that little chat makes a world of difference.

  28. Joan says:

    I love this post and appreciate the inspiration! ย I think sometimes we as parents aren’t even aware that it’s our own desire to be liked, or whatever, that keeps us from speaking up and we tell ourselves it’s about not being that troubling making parent. ย Curious what other’s opinions are about when your child begs you NOT to talk to the teacher. ย I have just such a struggle right now and my instinct is to force him to come with me and talk to the camp counselor, even if he hides behind my legs, but he is begging and pleading to not say anything.ย 

  29. […] from Nick Jonas (NO LIE.), bemoaned that most awkward of social interactions: the friendly hug and spoke up for my daughter when she couldn’t do it herself.ย  I inadvertently started another online war with a post on whether childless men should be hanging […]

  30. […] Throughout your seventh year, I saw so much quiet potential in you– you displayed selfless generosity, sensitivity, thoughtfulness, deep concerns–ย  and I sometimes had trouble holding back from trumpeting your attributes to everyone around us. Your father and I both realized while you were seven that your innocence and depth of caring is rare and precious, and something we’ll go to great lengths to protect. […]

  31. Kate says:

    Awesome!ย  Brought tears to my eyes because my 5 YO daughter is the exact same way…sensitive and introverted, but fun, smart, loving, caring and funny!ย  Thank you for posting this.ย  I am going to boolmark it and read it often.ย  How hard and “awkward” it is to confront another adult!ย  BUT we are their advocates.ย  So true.

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