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Good Parenting: Advocacy for parents at AACPS

Headshot2011Welcome to Good Parenting, our weekly online series on parenting advice with Annapolis, Maryland, expert Dr. Deborah Wood.

Advocacy for Parents at AACPS

Dear Dr. Debbie,

I’m having an issue with the school nurse at my daughter’s elementary school (a public school in Anne Arundel County). As a single dad, I’ve often encountered what might be called “old fashioned” expectations for parents’ roles, but with this one person, it more and more feels like discrimination.

Not too long ago “Ailes” was diagnosed with diabetes. Needless to say, this has been a rough couple of months – in the hospital for a week, then radically changing our somewhat casual attitude about food into counting the sugar content in every bite she takes. We’re learning to deal with it, but keeping tabs on her sugar level is something we don’t fool around with. My daughter had come into the nurse’s office for her regularly scheduled snack, and since I was there talking with the nurse about “Ailes” having had an unusually high ketone level in her blood test that morning, I thought it would be a good chance to do a urine test. I sent her into the nearby bathroom with a cup, then thought it would be best to help her so she wouldn’t mess up her clothes.

Well, she spilled some urine on her clothes anyway, so in the 15 minutes it took me to run home to bring back clean clothes, the nurse had questioned Ailes about my helping her – seeming to imply that my being with her at the toilet was inappropriate for a father and his 8-year-old.

I’m so livid about this. Ailes has enough trouble keeping her (noncustodial) mother’s comments about me from affecting our terrific relationship. We don’t need the school nurse’s antiquated ideas of a father’s role to make Ailes think she can’t ask me for help in the bathroom.

Furious Father

Don’t miss last week’s column on how to choose a preschool for a brilliant baby.

Dear Furious Father,

School nurse? And she’s that prudish? Sounds like you could use an advocate to help you straighten this out. In Anne Arundel County Public Schools that function is provided by the Office of Equity and Human Relations. The Human Relations Specialist is Leslie Stanton. Mr. Stanton can be reached at 410-222-5353.

You will be helping other families – particularly those with an opposite sex single parent – by bringing Mr. Stanton in to deal with the nurse’s potentially damaging attitude about a parent attending to his child’s medical condition.

Thank you for speaking up,

Dr. Debbie

Deborah Wood is a child development specialist in Annapolis. She holds a doctorate in Human Development from the University of Maryland at College Park and is founding director of the Chesapeake Children’s Museum. Long time fans and new readers can find many of her “Understanding Children” columns archived on the Chesapeake Family Magazine website. You can find her online at drdebbiewood.com.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments or submit a question to Dr. Debbie at Betsy@jecoannapolis.com

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