Five Reasons Why Professionals
Need to Listen to Parents

by Ruth Mathers, M.S., Certified Teacher of the Deaf

  1. Although we educators like to think our individual impact on a child with hearing loss lasts forever, in reality it only lasts for a brief time. A parent's impact lasts for the life of the child. For example, our society rightfully supports parent choice for communication options for children with hearing loss. A child's communication mode impacts every area of his life until he dies. A child's knowledge of double digit long division, the ability to predict the chromosomal outcomes based on Mendelssohn's genetic pea model, or to remember how to spell every word they ever studied for a spelling test..lots of people live very full lives without these impressive skills taught by professionals.
  2. Parents are an educator's best ally when navigating the "white water" in the school system. Administration listens to a group of parents who speak with a united voice. As professionals in the classroom, we are quite aware that the administration rarely listens to us (unless we happen to agree with them). Life is much easier when a parent, especially a group of parents, supports you.
  3. Parents are the medical professional's best ally in the medical field. After all, parents are the ones paying the bill and the medical model can't exist without clients. When parents feel their child's needs are not being met, they take their business elsewhere. To keep your clients, you need to listen to them to find out how to provide the best customer service.
  4. There are a lot of parents in the world. And they vote. Any professional in the public sector understands how mill levies, bond issues and taxes have great impact on our salaries, working conditions, even our training in higher education systems.
  5. Parents can move mountains and they will for the love of their child. As professionals, our clients and/or students benefit from our expertise, our concern, and often our love. Nevertheless, these benefits cannot begin to equal the power of a determined parent whose love for their child causes them to be powerful advocates at all levels of our society. Parents are frequently instruments of change - for the better. We see that all the time in our education system, and any other institution that provides service to children. Think about various Children's Hospitals around the country that are constantly finding ways to make their practices be more "family-friendly." These institutions listen to parents and make changes to provide better services.

From one professional to another...the next time you find yourself down-playing the importance of the parent's role in your job, stop and think of these things.

Ruth Mathers, M.S.
Educator of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Campus Director, St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf - Kansas City

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