The First Phase: Colliding and CampaigningThe initial stage of partnership formation is awkward and wary: Fialka and Mikus compare it to a blind date, with its concomitant self-consciousness, uncertainty, and absence of trust. The dance is awkward and toes are stepped on ("colliding). Its not unusual for each partner to promote their own agendas with great passion and conviction ("campaigning"), with little ability to listen to the platforms espoused by others. Parents and professionals are not usually listening to one another during this phase, and there is quite a bit of jockeying for power, territorialism, obstructive behavior, and blatant salesmanship. However, the authors explain, these behaviors are not necessarily negative or deliberately difficult. Rather, "It is not at all unusual for each of the partners, during this phase, to cling to one position because it is rooted in their dreams for the child...such campaigning is actually a positive reflection of the partners strength of commitment to the child or the program."
Fialka and Mikus have developed
a list of recommendations for professionals to follow in their early interactions
with parents of children with disabilities. Some key points from this list are
The authors caution that its easy to swamp the parents hope and sense of future possibilities when the partners are involved in colliding and campaigning. Nurses can avoid some of the negative effects during this first phase of partnership by stopping to ask for further information from the parents, and trying to understand their point of view. With a genuine effort, nurses can almost always discover areas of common vision for the child as well as similarity in their plans for intervention. As the parents begin to trust the nurse, the partners can move to the next phase of the dance.