Do School Staff Call You “Mom”?
I cannot count the times I have been in IEP meetings and school staff have called the mother “mom” instead of her name. I’d say it happens in 80 percent of meetings I attend. You don’t have to allow it to happen to you. IEP meetings typically start with introductions, so all one has to do is listen to know the names of participants. An IEP meeting is a business meeting. Can you imagine someone calling the other attendees at a business meeting by their titles only? “Hey, regional manager…” Calling every woman “mom” indicates that staff cannot remember that person’s name or didn’t bother to check it (on the file right in front of them). It is reasonable to expect that staff will check and learn your name before a meeting. Most importantly, your child is a unique person from a unique family, not just another meeting to attend. The more you can do to remind staff of this, the better off you are.
Calling a woman “mom” also implies that the only thing that woman brings to the table is her mom-ness, and that every mom is the same. In addition to being the expert on the subject of the meeting (the child), which is not insignificant, parents also have relevant life and professional expertise beyond their own child. Calling a woman “mom” devalues that expertise. Moms are —I know this is shocking— psychologists, social workers, teachers, school administrators, physical therapists, etc. (not to mention special education attorneys!), and bring that experience and valuable knowledge to the table. The next time school staff call you “mom,” speak up. Tell that person your name. “You can call me Nicole,” or “You can call me Dr. So and So” gets the point across politely and clearly.
And nope, I do not find that staff call the father “dad” very often. They, it seems, have names, which usually start with “Mr.”
Check out this post by A Day In Our Shoes, which describes similar problems and some ways to overcome them: