As parents move into the bargaining stage, they invest emotional energy in what Naseef describes as "Let’s make a deal." There may be desperation in their eyes as parents seek another way out, believing that life can go back to the way it once was. There is an element of magical thinking: "If I can just find the right physician or teacher, then the problem will go away." It’s another way for parents to buy time before they accept the reality of the child’s disability. Many times, parents complain that professionals seem impatient with them during this stage, as they "shop around" for a miraculous diagnosis, treatment, program, assistive device, or alternative therapy.

Nurses who are working with families in the bargaining stage may feel exasperated at times, wishing that Mom and Dad would focus on proven approaches and accept the recommendations of experts. It’s helpful to remember that bargaining is a natural, and protective, part of the grief process. Avoid quick judgments and rigid responses that can easily cause a rift between the professional and family. While it’s important to caution the family about options that can seriously impact the child’s health or well-being, most parental explorations are relatively harmless. Adopt a neutral stance, listing pros and cons when asked about particular approaches or alternatives. Offer to obtain more detailed information for the family to read in print or online, and follow through according to the family’s response.

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Nurses should advise parents to focus only on proven therapies and should strongly discourage them from exploring other options.