By Howard Termo PEAS Parent Support

Most parents don’t anticipate needing developmental help for their child and so are not prepared for its impact on their lives emotionally and logistically. Fortunately it is not too long before services are in place, schedules are worked out, and families settle into a rhythm. It helps that a direction for their child’s progress is mapped out in such plans as their Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) or Individual Education Plan (IEP). But what about a parent’s plans? As parents begin adjusting to their unexpected turn of events, they may begin to feel they too need a plan.

On PEAS visits and in Parent Support Groups parents sometimes share conflicted feelings about the adjustments they are making to their best laid plans for career or family. These parents represent a broad range of situations and perspectives. Some have been staying home but hoped to get back to work sooner. Some are already working out of the home but hoped to be working more. Some work full time plus and wish they could be home more to share in their children’s progress. Still others had plans to take more classes, finish a degree and increase their chances for a better paying job. Often parents feel guilty or selfish thinking about themselves and their plans.

Most parents worry, a little or a lot, about the financial impact having a child in services can have on their family and their futures. Returning to their own plans, even if it takes revising them, can bring a sense of normalcy, and a feeling of control and getting back on track. And though they may feel guilty or selfish about wanting this, upon closer self-examination, parents often see that strengthening their sense of their own security is helping bring a sense of security back to their families.

Each family has its particular circumstances but also has many experiences in common with others. PEAS helps parents take time to take care of themselves by talking about how things are going as they learn about resources in their community and see that they are not alone. If you know of a family who would like emotional support as they navigate the unexpected turn of needing developmental services, please let them know about PEAS. Even a small amount of support and information can make a difference.

PEAS is a short term and flexible parent support service available in English or Spanish to Sonoma County parents with young children receiving developmental or special education services, birth to 5, or not yet in Kindergarten.  Thanks to an MHSA grant, services are provided at no cost to families and are available in the privacy of parents’ homes or other quiet settings, making parent support private, confidential, and accessible for busy parents. To make a referral (with a parent’s permission of course) or to learn more about PEAS, A Specialized Parent Support program, visit us at