7. Being ruthless – Now this survival characteristic is a further extension on “determination”. What I am talking about here is the need, when necessary, to be as ruthless as the most hard-nosed business person when it comes to your child. To give you an example I have heard of parents who bake cookies and take other treats into IEP meetings to try and “win over” the teachers and other educators in the room. Now for a start this isn’t my favorite approach as I feel it can blur the boundaries of what can be a “battle ground” at times. However I know people who do it and get great results so who am I to argue? But my point is – what happens when the head teacher turns around and flatly refuses the extra social skills class that your child needs (whilst he’s sat merrily chomping on your best home made chocolate brownie)?
This is when ruthlessness needs to take over. If your son NEEDS that extra help then things may need to turn a little heated for you to achieve that. This may involve you a very stubborn attitude and continuing to question the school in terms of their legal and moral rights to deliver what your child needs.
It may also mean mentioning a third party agency with clout such as The Office of Civil Rights in the USA. They are a very powerful force and I got some great advice on this from an interview I did with a mom called Mary Romaniec several years ago, who told me…
“That’s something that a lot of people don’t realize how much power that has, even putting that into a letter. The Office of Civil Rights is the federal arm of the special education laws. And if by chance a school district is found to potentially be violating federal laws, the school district could have the federal attorneys come into their offices and be there, camp out for months as they comb through files and interview personnel, costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney bills. And all a parent has to do is just mention, “I believe that you violated my child’s federal rights.” And you put that in writing and you will be surprised at just how much a school district will finally start paying attention to what you have to say…”
So whether it’s mentioning an external legal or governing body, or the ability to stare the head teacher in the eye and quite openly question their commitment to your son (with an attitude that you don’t intend to take “no” for an answer) – then there is definitely a time and a place to be ruthless.