Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Learning to Love the Child You've Got

I was cringing as I wrote the title of this blog sounds so harsh!

No matter how much parents tell themselves that they're content with the child they've been given and have no expectations, sometimes disappointment still rears its ugly head.  Even if you are happy and putting no pressure on your child to be a certain way, other people and their concerns and opinions threaten to derail your contentment.

I have no secret desire for Rory to be gifted or advanced in certain areas. I just want him to be average. Average is good. But when it became apparent that he was a bit behind in some areas, people told me I should be concerned.

He walked at 16 months. This is in the range of normal, but I had a barrage of people - some older mums with grandkids, and some first-time mums, like me - express concern that he wasn't walking before age one. WHAT?!? I thought kids walking before the age of one were in the minority.

He has a speech delay. We had a few sessions with a speech pathologist earlier in the year and she's confident he's just a late talker, and that he'll start talking properly around age three. When I tell people that he has trouble with his speech, they assume he's mute. That couldn't be further from the truth (come to my house if you don't believe me). The only time Rory is quiet is when he's asleep or in an unfamiliar environment and he gets a bit shy. He chatters away all the time, just not in English. His vocabulary is limited for his age, but, praise be to God, he has started stringing words together and widening his vocabulary.

He's also been a bit nervous about climbing. At times I've shuddered about this, because I struggled so much with this sort of thing as a child, and was teased mercilessly about it in kindergarten and primary school. I don't want him to take after me in this area and face the bullying I faced. So, I don't want to be unsympathetic about his fears and push him too hard, but I still want to expose him to lots of opportunities to practise.

Being the first grandchild and nephew on both sides of the family means there have been a lot of high (and unrealistic) expectations placed upon Rory's little shoulders. He (plus me and Duncan) have had to listen to comments like, " When are you going to walk/talk?" and, "Why can't he catch that ball/climb that big rock etc. because so-and-so's kid is doing it?"  There's a lot of blame placed on parents these days if their children are below par in others' expectations, and I'm trying to learn to ignore it. It shows people's ignorance more than anything if they assume kids' weaker areas are always the result of 'bad parenting'. But, at the same time, it does bring out defensiveness in me, which I'm trying to learn to get over.

That is one of the big challenges in parenting...learning to love the child you've been given, the gift from God. Not the one who you hoped would be smarter, more social, more winsome, or more physically able, but learning to love them with all of their little quirks and interests, and walking beside them on the way.


Iris Flavia said...

My Niece sees a speech therapist and has improved lots.
Bro and SIL don´t listen to what other people think the kids should be doing at a certain age.
It´s hard to ignore but - haha, being childless myself, I know - I´d say do it like they do? Listen to your heart. And who knows what good surprises come along, too?

Jillian said...

It must be so hard to hear all the criticism and try and be discerning as to what to take notice of and what to ignore.
I pray God gives you and Dunc wisdom and grace when having to listen to unwarranted and unhelpful opinions. xx

Sarah said...

Thanks Iris and Jill. x