By Andrea Sebreros
We are in a society where the negative is amplified and the positive is overlooked. Our families have their own culture, strengths, and their own normal. They are the experts to what works in their family. It’s not about us and our opinion of how every family should function. We help guide them and help them see from a different lens when things seem bleak. Many times they are exhausted and need someone to help them see the good. It’s our privilege as parent partners to join their families for a short time and help them reach their family vision and the desires of their heart. Engagement is an ongoing process and is instrumental in building mutual trust with families.
As parent partners, we help our parents by empowering them so they can advocate for themselves, their children and family. At times our parents are not aware how much weight their opinion and concerns carry. For example, at their medication appointments the doctor needs to know from their perspective if the medicine is affecting their child or if it requires further changes.
We help our parents learn to be better organized, maintain a calendar and journal to help track strengths and concerns. We help identify their parenting styles and assist with increasing their parenting skills. The role is unique as engagement is key and parents are open to learning how they can be more effective so they don’t feel constantly defeated.
We as parent partners help our caregivers with conflict resolution so they can identify how to have effective communication with their children. During constant conflict they learn how to have challenging conversations. I enjoy helping caregivers identify opportunities to practice win/win attitude instead of win/loose attitude. We help our caregivers prepare for school and IEP meetings. It’s important for them to feel confident and be able to communicate clearly their child’s needs.
It’s our job as parent partners to help our caregivers identify their natural supports. Who is there for them during those critical times of need? We assist in bridging and repairing their relationships, but natural supports are their lifelong connections. In addition, we connect them to new informal supports and community resources to promote their self-sufficiency.
We are their “cheerleaders.” We listen to them, validate their feelings and encourage them to always have HOPE. Our families really inspire me as I’ve seen how they have overcome huge obstacles.
After being a parent partner for nine years, I’ve developed leadership skills and have been promoted to Core Program Supervisor. I now have the opportunity to provide unconditional support, guidance and be a beacon of hope to our hard working, talented and good-hearted parent partners. The specialized roles they serve with families are key to successful outcomes, and I’m proud to be a part of it.