I don’t know about you, but I was blissfully unaware of the anxiety and guilt that enters your life when your first little baby enters the world. One of the blessings (or curses) is that there is a TON of information about parenting and child development available online.
Naturally, when I noticed my daughter was not speaking as much as some of her peers, I turned to good ol’ Google. Google confirmed my fears that my sweet darling was behind on speech development. What CRUSHED me was the statement that language development happens naturally by speaking to your child and reading to them.
I started to question my entire purpose. I had become a stay-at-home mom when my daughter was 7 months old. If the internet was suggesting I wasn’t speaking or reading to my child enough, then what was I doing with my life?
I felt as if I had utterly failed as a mother.
Maybe you have experienced this feeling as well. The guilt and feeling like we have failed our children can come from hearing the opinion of a family member, the media, comparison to others, or a seemingly innocent Google search.
I want to encourage any mama feeling this way to take a deep breath, hug that sweet babe of yours, and be proactive.
If you are worried about child development, seek out help from an actual professional. We decided to get an Early Intervention assessment and did in-home therapy for a little over a year.
Early Intervention lasts until the child is 3 years old, so when my daughter was approaching that age, our provider recommended we get an assessment with a speech therapist in order to continue services. I didn’t have the best feeling about that secondary assessment. I sought out a second opinion at Chatterbox Speech Therapy.
Chatterbox Speech Therapy was a breath of fresh air.
After talking with the speech therapists, I no longer felt the guilt that had been plaguing me for over a year. They assured me that each child develops on their own schedule. My daughter’s articulation (the way she pronounces words) was appropriate for her age considering she was a late talker. I appreciated their honesty. They took a complete look at my daughter’s speech rather than just comparing her to a standard chart.
I left that appointment feeling more confident and optimistic than I had for a while. As my daughter’s third year progressed, I began to feel that “punch in the stomach” feeling everytime she said something and an adult would reply with “Uh huh” or “What did she say?”.
Back in January, I had my daughter reassessed at Chatterbox. This time she did show a deficit in her articulation. The therapist was very understanding and empathetic to the guilt I had been feeling around my daughter’s speech. I was reassured that my daughter’s articulation was not my fault. That, in fact, Google was wrong. Speech and articulation are developed partly by hearing speech from parents. There is also a lot of oral-motor learning that must take place. Some kids can pick this up naturally. But others need extra help and practice.
My daughter will begin speech therapy soon to work on her articulation. I am looking forward to working in partnership with Chatterbox’s therapists.
I’m not one to dole out advice often. However, I do want to encourage any mamas out there to reach out to the amazing resources we have in Albuquerque if you are feeling that mommy-guilt around any aspect of development.