I just took a personality quiz… another one. (I love those things.) It says that I hold the distinguished personality type of “Director”: decisive, focused, analytical, logical, competitive, self-disciplined, independent, and direct. That’s pretty spot on; I generally embody those attributes. However, as a provider who works with families I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) to shift the directorial duties to that of the parent. My goals now involve helping the parent, help their child. It wasn’t always this way.
See 10 years ago I would have debated you to the death, but time has softened my soul and experience has given me a swift kick until I learned that a smart person knows what to say but a wise person knows whether or not to say it. On some choice days, I learn that lesson all over again.
Providers will tell you that working with families is one of the toughest positions you can put yourself in because there is so much emotion and differing viewpoints that it can often lead to a knock down, drag out bull-fight over who is right and who is right-er. As a provider, I have objectivity on my side but I know the Parent has the power. So what’s a provider to do?
The Director in me is able to make confident and really great recommendations based on sound advice, experience, and know-how. I’m able to write it all down and package it in a pretty binder. I’m able to sit and talk to parents for hours about their rights, their choices, and what path I would choose. When it comes down to it, though, I know must defer to the Parent because they know what’s best for their child, even if I disagree. It’s a hard pill to swallow, especially when my gut tells me that a kid on my caseload would benefit from getting help in Speech, OT, and Resource but the parent is just not ready to move forward.
I used to see this as defeat, but now I see this as a sign that things beyond my control are in play. I remind myself that no one knows the future and perhaps the wheels are in motion for something different, something better for this kid. Whatever the ultimate outcome, I’ve learned to listen first, recommend second, and take on the role of Assisting the Director-Parent on their journey to come to terms with and provide for their child’s challenges.