can also lead to conflict. Nurses working within medical, developmental, or
educational systems often face time constraints because of their caseload,
laws and regulations governing services to the child, and the urgency of the
childs needs. Janice Fialka and Karen Mikus point out the incontrovertible
truth that both parents and professionals in this country live in a society
where time is of the essence, and they are used to getting things done right
away. They point out that this expectation of quick action is not feasible
for relationships between parents and professionals:
"But not all processes can be shortened and accelerated. There is virtually no way around the fact that relationships need time. They need to develop through conversations, problem-solving sessions, and overall hard work. All of which can lead to a sense of trust, the foundation of all relationships. There is, in fact, no magic for speeding up the process of forming a solid working partnership. (Fialka & Mikus, p.6)
In todays fast-paced
culture, time is a precious commodity. For parents of children with special
needs, time takes on a new dimension. Helen Featherstone, the mother of a
son with cerebral palsy, blindness and mental retardation, explained it starkly
when one of her sons therapists asked her to add a 15-minute activity
to her sons daily program. "Where", Featherstone asked, "is
that 15 minutes supposed to come from? What am I supposed to give up? There
is no time in my life, she explained, that is not already taken. For each
15-minute activity that is added, one has to be taken away." (Featherstone)
To put it bluntly, parents of children with special needs do not have the time or energy to deal with any professional relationship that doesnt provide significant value to the child or family. Nurses working with these parents need to establish credibility and prove their value, using exceptional interpersonal skills. While these interpersonal communication skills are important in any phase of a relationship, they are key to establishing early rapport with families.
When introducing themselves to families of children with special needs, nurses should emphasize that time is of the essence and the parents need to start working with them immediately.
and Mikus use the metaphor of a dance to describe the partnership process.
In their initial interactions with professionals, parents are anxious and
hesitant. The authors emphasize the importance of listening for preliminary