Rebuilding Burnt Bridges

By Janet DesGeorges

You've won your lawsuit, or maybe you just lost the argument. You may have successfully advocated for a service your child needs, yet a schism in the relationship between you and the professionals working with your child has been created. Whether you are a parent or a professional, if you were on opposite sides of the fence, there are sometimes hard feelings which result in anything but a feeling of collaboration. How do you build back the bridge? As one parent put it, "I wish I had never yelled at our school district's special Education Director. If felt good at the time, and I 'won' the battle I was fighting for, but then spent the next year working at regaining civility between us, so I could advocate for my daughter's ensuing needs." Whether it is the general ed. teacher, a specialist, or any other professional that a parent has a "run-in" with, it is important to keep your eye on the prize - successful outcomes for your child. If you are a professional who has found it difficult to work collaboratively with a parent, it is worth the time and energy to find a place of collaboration.

Here are a few short tips on "building that bridge"

  • Remember who this is about! A child who is counting on you.
  • Love may never mean having to say you're sorry, but a collaborative process sure does! Admit your mistakes.
  • Show your appreciation for the good stuff! Without sounding too sappy, we all need to hear what we're doing right sometimes.
  • Change of attitude and beliefs comes through effective relationships. If you need to make change, you MUST build a relationship with the people you are on a team with.


One of the secrets of a long and fruitful life is to forgive everybody everything every night before you go to bed. - Ann Landers

Be good, be kind, be humane, and charitable; love your fellows; console the afflicted; pardon those who have done you wrong. - Zoroaster

Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel in order to be tough. - Franklin Roosevelt

If you learn from your suffering, and really come to understand the lesson you were taught, you might be able to help someone else who's now in the phase you may have just completed. Maybe that's what it's all about after all...Anonymous

A lost battle is a battle one thinks one has lost. - Ferdinand Foch

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. - Albert Einstein

Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill. - Buddha.

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