education, parenting, school psychology

The Other Side of the Table

One thing I know for sure is that being a mom makes me a better, more empathetic School Psychologist. My younger self would cringe at that assertion. That young, fresh-out-of-the-grad school-box, professional would scoff at the notion that mothers make better School Psychologists. She was ready to change the world, one IEP meeting at a time.  I wasn’t an inadequate School Psychologist before I had children, I am just better now because I have lived an experience you cannot understand until you have done it yourself.

One thing that I have started noticing is the look in a mother’s eye when we talk about a disability. I can’t help but imagine myself on that side of the table talking about one of my own sweet babies. And this is where knowing too much can hurt you.

We know that students identified as having a specific learning disability have poorer educational outcomes. This might seem obvious, but the flip side of that, from a parent’s point of view, is that they have to face that their child will struggle. Now, that’s not to say that they won’t overcome their struggle or become better people because of it, but it is certain that there will be struggle. This is one of the most difficult pills to swallow as a parent, knowing your child will struggle and there is little to nothing you can do to stop it. Not only that, allowing your child to struggle and sitting with them through it, will shape them into resilient people who learn that they can handle challenge.

That sucks.

Who wants to do that??? When our babies cry we rock them and love on them and feed them and soothe them. When our toddlers bump their knee we swoop them up and kiss it better. One of the hardest things to do as a parent is sit with your child in their discomfort and not try to fix it. I think it also might be one of the most important gifts we can offer.

As I sit across the table from another mother who is trying to understand what I am explaining about phonological processing and auditory working memory, I try not to get too lost in the weaknesses. This is her baby, and she wants to swoop him up and kiss it better. She can’t. But we can sit together in the struggle and move through it until we are ready to help her child shine his brightest with the strengths he has in spite of the struggle. I know what it feels like and I am here when she is ready.

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