As first time parents, or any time parents really, we may sometimes find ourselves sitting in front of ‘professionals’ vigorously nodding our heads in agreement with what they’re saying, when in actual fact we haven’t really got a clue what they’re on about.

But still, blindly we follow because they are meant to know, right? And if we ask, well we don’t want to come across as stupid, or a ‘bad’ parent for not knowing these things so we stay quiet, while the voice inside our heads is saying ‘What did all that mean.’ Well, guess what? It’s alright not to know, just as it’s alright to ask.

In this day and age with choices galore, it’s so important to learn how to speak up for your child. Becoming your child’s advocate by questioning ‘professionals,’ and others for that matter, can be a very valuable tool for your family. And like everything we learn, the more you speak up for your child, the better advocate you’ll become.

Learn how to speak up for your child

For some, the road to being their child’s advocate will come easy. They won’t even falter to ask all of those necessary questions but for many of us, this is not an easy place to find ourselves, so here are six tips that may help you.

6 tips to parent advocacy

  • When going for an appointment, think about what you really want to tell the professional, what you’d like to know and how you may ask those questions.


  • If unsure of something they say, ask. As I say to the parents I work with, there are no stupid questions! You are not meant to know all of the jargon that ‘professionals’ use and asking helps to build your trust in the person that is advising you, which in turn makes you a great advocate in choosing your trusted providers.


  • Take notes. Ask to spell things if you are unsure and keep a good record of what your professional has said because, they can get it wrong.


  • Remember you are in charge and you should never feel pressured into choosing a path that doesn’t feel right for your child. If you need more time and it’s a situation where you can take some, then do so.


  • Research – they say google is so misleading and yes, it can be at times, however, it can also be helpful. For example, the other day I rushed my 2 ½ year old boy into the doctors because, after fighting a virus for a few days, he went dramatically downhill within 15 minutes.My normal trusted doctor wasn’t there so another doctor diagnosed tonsillitis and sent us home with some antibiotics. I don’t like taking antibiotics if I can help it, let alone my child having them so, I got home and goggled tonsillitis and found that actually there are two kinds – who knew; one that requires antibiotics, and one that doesn’t.And guess what? The child needs to be tested to find out which one they have. Yet no test was done for my son – just give him the antibiotics! Totally frustrated at the lack of attention this doctor took, I went back to him and asked for the test and sure enough, he didn’t need antibiotics. Research is your friend and paramount to being a good parent advocate.


  • Question, question, question! I know, I’ve already said that one, but it’s SO important. As one father said to me while chatting about this, ‘by asking, you help the professional to further examine your child’s situation, which in turn can have them rethinking what they are telling you.’ This father went on to say, ‘I often wonder how many parents just don’t ask, and therefore may not get all the information they need?’ Hopefully a lot less after they read this article.

Create a child advocate

There’s another great outcome when you learn how to speak up for your child’s wellbeing. As your child grows and witnesses the way you question, and how you strive to surround them with people they can trust, they learn to do the same for themselves and for their children.

This generation is growing up in a world of so much choice, more so than a lot of us ever had, so in my mind teaching them how to speak up will help protect them, and help them grow into confident, motivated advocates for their lifetime.

More useful resources

Find out Mark Leishman’s Ten top tips for developing respect and assertiveness, or how to instil respect when Raising responsible teens. Did you know Self-hypnosis can help you to become a more assertive parent?

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Philippa Murphy, is an author, speaker, mother and one of New Zealand’s leading postnatal educators at her worldwide postnatal practice, BabyCues- Nurture with Nature. Offering ground-breaking solutions for the prevention and remedy of Digestive Overload for newborns and infants, Philippa is also the founder of the non-profit organisation, ‘The Pudding Club – Crafting Postnatal Care in the Antenatal Stages.’

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I totally agree, I have become very active in regards to my child’s education, speaking to teacher, principal’s and school boards, I am amazed at the amount of input I am able to give and actively create pro activity outcomes, there is a lot more inside us than we often give credit for, I never ever thought or ever felt in any way, that i identified with ‘schooling’ the I can & am. This has enabled me to be a strong advocate for my son and has Positively developed our relating and closeness, we have a huggy bond that usually… Read more »

Philippa Murphy

Hi Mu – that is wonderful to hear! So many parents either don’t believe they have much of a say when it comes to schooling or health, that the teachers know best and perhaps they won’t be listened to so good on you for advocating for your son! I hope others find your sharing as inspiring as I have. I have a two-and-a-half year old and have already started speaking up for him at his preschool that he attends two mornings a week. At first, when I did the teachers kind of made me feel like I had the problem,… Read more »

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