Updated: Dec 3, 2020
Initial meetings with a speech and language pathologist can be intimidating for parents. Taking first steps to conclude that milestones may not be met, delays may be present and additional diagnosis is a possibility for your sugar is no easy pill to swallow. For years, parents have entered my office, making the brave decision to draw a line in the sand and make the move to place all pride aside to get help on their sugar’s behalf. I never take for granted the strength required to admit there is a problem and to get closer to seeking the path for a solution. Even within that, mixed emotions occupy the most rational in mind, because again…who wants to admit, “something may be wrong.”
A million thoughts can enter into a parent’s mind when facing this reality. Questions immediately surface that include: are they really behind, will they live a normal life, how will it impact family dynamic, will I be judged for being a “bad parent,” and is this my fault?
Is this my fault aka parent guilt aka blame game aka the relationship killer? World changer let us travel down this path together. You and your parenting partner came together and created a beautiful sugar. For forty weeks, this sugar grew and developed. While sugar grew and developed, eye color was formed, hair color was formed, weight, height, food preference, and the list goes on. Sugar entered into this world with everything already created. As sugar grew, you personally watched milestones mastered from smiling, sitting up, responding to your voice, walking, first words and the list goes on. These magical occurrences were by no accident. Opportunity and time provided the space for sugar to master these areas. At some point, sugar may have displayed differences in development, differences in how they react to the world, differences from their siblings, differences from what you read about in the parenting books, and these differences were enough for questions to surface asking, “is everything okay?” Behaviors presented were enough for you to ask a question to your pediatrician, or your pediatrician to ask you, or a friend or family member to ask a question, or whatever that moment was that led you to think, “maybe I need to seek professional support to ensure all is well.” Within that, you found out that maybe there were some gaps, some milestones were not met, or sugar may require additional testing. Whatever you found world changer; I am the first to tell you that it was not your fault. It was not your parenting partners fault. There was nothing that you could do. There was nothing that you did not do that led sugar to demonstrate delays. This is a taboo subject, and we are going to unpack it today.
Guilt is the equivalent of carrying bags of bricks everywhere you go. When parents carry guilt, it hinders progress. Guilt creates an environment that makes us feel like the decisions that we make (or made) are not valuable, reliable, or trustworthy. When people carry guilt, they believe they have done something wrong. That the outcome was caused by their actions. This is simply not true. World changers, you have to allow yourself to let go of guilt. You are not guilty of your sugar’s diagnosis or delay. Dispel this guilt by accepting that this was out of your hands. There is no need to be guilty of something out of your control. Shift that guilt into opportunity to get professional support to create a map that leads you and sugar to progress.
The blame game occurs when parenting partners point the finger at one another. It is the fault of xxx because they did, or did not, or did not try hard enough, or did not read another book, or whatever you can fill the blank with. Even if one parenting partner was not as attentive as the other, that does not answer the question to sugars delay or diagnosis. Most importantly, it creates resentment between parenting partners, and this pushes us away from progress. When I see families blaming each other, I always observe the same outcome…one parent overcompensates, one parent denies the level of severity (which hinders progress), or one parent goes through the journey alone. This is no way for parenting partners to world change. At the end of the day, collectively you created a beautiful person. It is for your best interest to unite, forgive, heal, accept, and work together as a team. This is also beneficial for the long-term preservation of your relationship.
Continuing to blame leads to the decimation of your relationship. The best way to destroy your relationship with your parenting partner is refusing to join together as an alliance. Sugar needs you both. You both have something magical to offer your sugar that the other parenting partner cannot offer. Even if sugars behavior coincides with one parent over the other, the balance from the two of you is unparalleled. Allowing guilt, pride, blame, and resentment to take over your relationship kills progress. Remember, sugar picks up on your emotions, learns from your actions, and represents that to the world. We want sugar maximizing their potential to do amazing things in this world. We want both parenting partners working to help support sugars growth and development. A diagnosis or delay should never hinder that. If anything, let us try to cultivate an environment that nurtures and fosters their growth. As you work together, not only do you strengthen your relationship, you also help sugar decrease level of severity, understand who they are, and stigma is dissolved on their behalf.
World changers, I never underestimate the emotions that come along with difference, diagnosis, and delay. I never underestimate the feelings, questions, and concerns that accompany these conversations. However, I am a firm believer that our attitude and perception can make the difference. What are we truly afraid of? Is it pride? Outsiders perception? Our own personal perception? Judgment from others? Whatever it is, we have to challenge these feelings, by learning truth and debunking these myths. Diagnosis or not, your sugar is still your sugar and they have opportunity to be their best self. At the end of the day, learning about the initial diagnosis is not your fault…the steps taken following the diagnosis can make the biggest difference in the world.
As always world changers, I am in the corner cheerleading for you.
Until the next time, Take Care, C.