How To Successfully Advocate For Your Children

Author of 5 books, podcaster, parent trainer, husband and father.

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Your job as a parent is to make sure your children receive the best possible services. Whether this is within your school system, your pediatricians office, or your family therapist's office. You do this because you care. But what do you do when you feel like you can't adequately communicate the needs of your child?

You’ve probably experienced something like this when speaking to a professional:

“It doesn’t look like there’s anything wrong with him?”

“I understand you believe she has a special need, but she is a great student, well-liked, and makes good grades. We are not sure she needs any services.”

You feel lost. You are speechless. You may even feel powerless. You are frustrated but you’re trying to be civil. You live day in and day out with this child and you’ve watched them struggle. Your heart breaks. And you want to do everything in your power to advocate for them. But you’re sitting in the office of something who spent years and years in school to earn the letters next to their name. They’re telling you they don’t see what you see. You feel that they are telling you you’re wrong.

And most likely, for a majority of your life, you’ve been conditioned to not question the pros. Maybe you even know this pro personally and it would make it even more awkward to question them.

But you know, vital information about your child is going unnoticed. You know what you’ve seen and experienced with this them in your home. You know more is going on than the pro is  willing to accept. How do you successfully advocate for you and your child, when it seems you’re up against a wall and not getting anywhere? Here are some suggestions that have gained positive results over the years for us…

  • Remain calm. We’ve said this before (especially when we talk about entering into IEP meetings), but you have to stay calm and collected. No matter what. Enter a meeting with calmness. Enter collected. Maintain control of your emotions. I know how hard this is to do. You are immersed in this journey with your child. You have wounds on your heart. You are exhausted and you want answers because you love your kiddo. It’s easy to wear those emotions on your sleeve. BUT, you must….remain…calm! Calm people get noticed. Calm people are respected. Crazy people get ignored…or added to a watch list. 😉

    Calm people get noticed. Calm people are respected. Crazy people get ignored…or added to a watch list!

  • Enter prepared. Near the beginning of our journey, when we walked into our first IEP meeting, we researched ahead of time, scoured the internet, and downloaded a ton of content, printed it out, and took it with us to the meeting. We did the same when we met our children’s new pediatrician a few years after. Not only did we research and print, we read as much as we could on FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) before the meetings. Since then, we have narrowed the resources we share with professionals to a handful. We share a few helpful articles, not every single article.
  • Take others. Many, many years ago, we received call from a special education teacher demanding that we “feed our son breakfast every morning!” This came weeks into the school year. We were dumfounded. Our children have never not received a meal. As we were preparing for this emergency meeting with the principal, guidance counselor, and this teacher, our family therapist gave us valuable advice. “Take me with you,” she said. Not only did we decide to take her because she knew exactly how my child operated, we also took our close friend who understood my child’s disorder. We did so for the purpose of advocacy. It worked. We knew that we couldn’t adequately (in those days) communicate what was really going on, so we took an entourage. If you feel like you won’t be heard properly, take others with you, especially if those ‘others’ are also professionals.
  • Be persistent. Don’t stop until you get the results you are looking for, and the services your child deserves. This is crucial. You don’t have to accept face value on an answer you’re given by a pediatrician, teacher, caseworker, principal.


Most professionals (doctors, therapists, teachers, school administrators, etc) have your child’s best interest in mind. They may just not fully understand your child’s unique disorder (FASD or attachment issues are classic examples). That’s why it’s important that you advocate. You have more power than you think you do.

Have you struggled in this area of your parenting? What are some other strategies you’ve discovered? Share with us in the comment section below.

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.