Advocacy: Stepping Up For Our Children

Advocate: one who speaks on behalf of, supports and champions the efforts of another person or cause. As we continue on to Week 2 of our youth series, I wanted to take some time to speak on my experience as being an advocate for my son, Zion. If you really think about it, as parents, whether anyone tells you or not, it’s the responsibility of any parent, all parents, to advocate for their children. Parenthood means so much more than just keeping a roof over their heads, keeping food on the table. Parenthood is not just sustenance.

Keeping it real, the role of advocacy for your child begins long before the doctor hands you the beautiful newborn. From the time you find out you are pregnant, in essence, the wellbeing of the child and every decision that you make should be made with their wellbeing at the forefront of your mind. Again, being totally transparent, this does not always register in the minds of young parents. It didn’t with me. Yes, I knew I was pregnant, I knew that intellectually I had to start making life decisions that would best serve my unborn child, but putting that into practice is a whole other story. That’s why as much as its in my power to do, I don’t judge other young mothers. Time and experience has changed my perspective on parenting, however, because I vividly remember some of my own unwise choices, I am not that quick to bash another woman or belittle her choices.

When I really think about being Zion’s advocate, I think of it in practical terms. I assume the responsibility of teaching him morals and values, I assume the responsibility of teaching him to be kind to others, respectful towards others, unselfish, law-abiding. This is a role that I gladly embrace. However, it goes much deeper than that, as least it does for me. Being his champion means choosing to not only see the best in him but expecting the best of him. I believe it is my responsibility to show him a world where he can thrive, think himself capable of excelling. Being quite honest, I personally will feel as though I have dropped the ball if Zion enters adulthood ill-prepared for what life may throw his way. Does this mean I expect perfection? Absolutely not! I am imperfect therefore, as a product of me, my love and upbringing, he will be imperfect. And while I will never condone his imperfection, I will always love and accept him, as his advocate and his mother.

As I see young mothers doing the best they possibly can with little support and limited resources, I feel it’s the job of the village to walk alongside them and offer a bit of advice, a word of encouragement, a shoulder to cry on when the going gets tough. If you think the terrible two’s are bad, wait until they start school! But seriously, school demands that parents are actively present and attentive in their child’s life. While the educators are responsible for imparting knowledge to my son, it’s my responsibility to ensure he shows up everyday, ready to learn and prepared for positive socialization with other children.

Even though this isn’t a conversation that many parents would typically have, it’s very necessary. Personally, I’ve utilized a few strategies that have helped me tremendously with walking into my role as Zion’s advocate. Maybe some of them might help you:
1. Talking with your child.
Now, this is a big one because many of
us were raised in households where
adults talked to children, not with
children. Talking with requires active
listening. Talking with requires a parent
to be open or flexible to another train of
thought. But it arms your child with a
confidence that they are heard and
seen, worth listening too.
2. Being Informed
I must admit, I’m often shocked at the
number of parents that aren’t aware of
anything concerning their child’s
education, outside of the teacher’s
name. It’s our responsibility to know
what is expected of our children, what
qualifies as success, what resources
are available to offer then the greatest
chance of success. If you prioritize your
child’s education, then they get a front
row seat to witness that they matter.
3. Being An Active Presence
Listen, I know everybody works,
everybody is busy, however, if you
are going to advocate for your child,
then you need to show up to do it. It’s
difficult advocating from work or from
home. It’s a sacrifice. At the beginning
of the school year, consider getting the
dates for parent teacher conferences,
Solidify the dates for American
Education Week and make plans in
advance to be in attendance.
4. Think of the teacher as a Partner
Make it a point of touching base with
your child’s teacher to introduce
yourself. Don’t wait until there is an
issue. Set the precedent that you will
be involved and you want to
work with the teacher for your child to
reach their goals. This person will spend
approx six hours 5 days a week with
your child. Wouldn’t it make sense to
partner with them for the sake of your
child?
5. In the face of adversity, remain calm.
This is a tricky one because I have not
always received stellar marks with this
one, smh. However, when I think back, it
only negatively impacts Zion when I
do not hold my tongue and let cooler
heads prevail. What feels right in
the moment for me, could end up
embarrassing him and give him the
impression that Mommy can’t handle
tough situations. The last thing any
parent wants is their child feeling as
though telling them something difficult
will only make the situation worse. Also,
When we remain calm, it teaches our
children to express themselves
rationally and respectfully, regardless
of the situation. Everyone is not out
to get Zion and I do not want to send him
into the world with that mindset because
it only mentally and emotionally cripples
him.

You’ve heard it a million times and I’ll say it a million more: you are your child’s best advocate! Until they can champion their own causes, that is your job. Expect them to do well, speak life into them, let them know that they matter, with words and actions! Affirm their existence! Hold them accountable when they mess up and use every situation, good or bad, as a teachable moment.
Join me Sunday evening as we go live and talk more about advocating for our greatest assets, our children. See you Sunday at 7 pm!! 

Picture of Koach Phee
Koach Phee

Koach Phee is the licensed owner and operator of Koach Phee Life Koaching. When she's not busy helping her student achieve their greatest potential, you'll find her spending time and making beautiful memories with her son, Zion.

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