Almost everything we do as parents is aimed at making our children independent. Every milestone our children hit, every obstacle they overcome brings them closer to this goal.
I’m not sure how many people actually think about it in those terms, but it is true. We may love our kids more than life itself, but we all want them to grow up and have lives of their own. We want them to be independent adults.
Of course we will all make mistakes along the way, it is impossible not to. There is one mistake we see that seems unique to dads.
Of all of the mistakes it is one of the most unfortunate mistakes because it has a profoundly negative impact on their children.
We don’t see it a lot, but we do see it some. It’s not unique to us either. We also saw it a lot when we were working in the government programs. Many of our colleagues here in Westchester and in other cities and states also report the problem.
It usually goes something like this. A concerned mom brings her child in for a speech evaluation or consultation and it is determined that her child does in fact need speech services. From there she says something to the effect of “I know my child needs help and I really want to get him help, but my husband doesn’t think there is a problem.”
Being a dad I can relate. It is as if we dads have a voice in our heads that says “if you ignore it, it will go away”. When Isa wanted Maya to have a Physical Therapy Evaluation I was very much against it. I had several reasons why I believed she didn’t need it. All of them sounded rational. All of them were probably wrong.
Actually I think it comes from our own drive for independence and overcoming obstacles.
One dad we know of said as much. His daughter has a significant language disorder and he believes treating it would be giving her a crutch. He argues that in life “one must overcome obstacles, if she get’s treatment it will teach her to take the easy way out”.
He does have a point. We all must overcome obstacles. Overcoming obstacles is a very good thing. However his logic is severely flawed and the mistake he is making for his daughter is tragic.
By his rationale he should not have attended school and nor should his daughter. After all, by his logic, learning from others is a crutch. By his rationale we should all learn solely by trial and error.
Of course if we all learned solely by trial and error our society would still be somewhere around the Stone Age.
Learning from others is a key component to the progress of society. We’d have a very dark world if no one had learned from and expanded on the invention developed by Sir Humphry Davy which led Thomas Edison to bring the light bulb into our homes seventy years later. Radio and the electric motor would not be possible without Nikola Tesla. And where would our great athletes be without their coaches?
We all must learn from someone. Speech, language and social skills are not exceptions.
The only difference is that these are the basic building blocks to our future. We need these skills in order to learn. We need them in order to function in society.
You can be independent and successful in life without being able to play sports or harness electricity. Ironically, it will be impossible to be independent and successful if you are not able to communicate and interact with others.
That is what is so unfortunate about this mistake. While most children stumble along and become proficient in communicating and interacting with others just by observing those around them, there are many who cannot.
For those children help is a necessity, not a crutch. Denying them that help is a tragic mistake.