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Parent Advocate Advice from Bestselling Author Dr. Mary L. Young

Dr. Mary L. Young has been a highly sought voice as an acclaimed educator for almost thirty years, serving in roles as a teacher, a principal, a school superintendent as well as having a key role in the South Carolina Department of Education. However, with her newfound celebrity as the bestselling author of The Prayer of Achsah: Getting Your Breakthrough From God, now Young is best known for her work as an influencer and motivator, sharing practical insight into life’s real issues. “The Fairy Godmother of Education,” as she’s affectionately known by adoring fans, has quickly become a breakout star as a social media influencer who shares tips to face life’s challenges with courage, passion, humor, and fun. Most recently, she published, Act Like A Parent: Think Like A School Superintendent to provide practical strategies to help parents advocate for their children in school.

A viewer recently asked: Dear Fairy Godmother of Education, what do you do if you feel uncomfortable and inadequate in parent teacher conferences at school?

Dr. Mary L. Young: Dear Concerned Parent, First of all, I want to commend you because the very fact that you’re open to learning says a lot about your courage. It takes a lot to be vulnerable, especially when you don’t know the person. Of all the questions I’m asked by readers, one topic that keeps coming up time and time again is the issue of strategies to support children in school. Let’s face it, we all want to be the best parent for our child because we love them and want to see them succeed in life!

Remember Your Worth!

Something you need to remember is you have a lot to offer to your child’s school because you know your child better than the teacher. Although the teacher is the expert on education, you are the expert on your child. You have known your child since birth. You know your child’s first words, the first time he/she walked, and the reason behind every facial expression. One of the most important things to keep in mind is your worth. It’s important to have a clear vision of what you truly want for your child. In fact, if you don’t know what you want for your child, how will you be able to ensure the academic success of your child? Remember your worth and value and hold on to it at all cost. Refuse to accept your feeling of inadequacy that doesn’t honor your true value and worth.

Learn to Have an Inquiry Posture

Perspective is important in life, but it’s most important when it comes to providing meaningful feedback at parent teacher conferences. You’re an asset to the meeting and have a lot to offer. When you don’t understand the “teacher language,” it’s ok to ask for the meaning of the terms and statements. Teachers are so used to talking in their “teacher language” and sometimes forget their audience. Asking the teacher to clarify the information shows that you have a posture to learn the information to be an advocate for your child. It’s easy to feel uncomfortable and inadequate during a parent teacher conference, but if you want to see your child excel in school, it’s time to start asking questions!

Be Open, But Realistic!

To all my Concerned Parents out there, your child deserves the best quality education. But in your search for the best, it’s important to also be realistic. Thing is, we’re all on a journey and we’re all learning and growing. There are no perfect people. Teachers aren’t a “one-stop-shop.” Something I share in success coaching sessions all throughout the world is the importance of being real. It’s time to bring reality back into our expectation of schools. Teachers are no longer expected to just teach. They are the counselor, mediator, coach, tutor, and more. Keep in mind that a healthy relationship with your child’s teacher isn’t always going to be easy. You may not always see eye to eye. However, the goal is to focus on what’s best for your child. Don’t assume what the teacher should or should not know. Although your child’s teacher may not say it, there are times when he/she may feel inadequate too. However, they keep moving forward and so should you!

If you have sat on the emotional sidelines of your child’s school because you perhaps questioned if you were doing it right, it’s time to get back on the field. At the end of the day, you are your child’s biggest cheerleader. Maybe instead of looking for answers externally, it’s time to start looking for those answers internally. You know more than you give yourself credit! You have a lot to offer to not only your child’s education, but to everyone in your school community. One person doesn’t have all of the answers. Your voice matters!

For more information on the work of bestselling author Dr. Mary L. Young, visit Also, follow her “The Fairy Godmother of Education” Facebook page and YouTube channel.

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