By Paul Carson
If you’re a new father, congratulations -- you just landed the best job in the world! Fathers are looked at as heroes, as protectors, as clowns and sometimes as jungle-gyms. Fathers are endlessly comparing their children’s accomplishments -- and being guys, sometimes doing so competitively. Sometimes it may be hard for us to hear these comparisons, particularly if our kids are behind on a milestone or struggling to learn an important skill. It may sting to hear about your friend’s son taking his first steps when your boy or girl isn't quite there yet.
Our son Anthony is two-and-a-half and is still working on his first words. He points very enthusiastically and sometimes he yells, because he doesn't have a vocabulary yet. We go to speech therapy and work with just about every speech-learning tool there is. But what I like to focus on is how much Anthony understands. While his speech may be delayed, he listens to and understands a lot – we've learned never to underestimate what words he may have picked up!
Anthony still needs help walking independently. He’s got orthotics and has had all kinds of therapies, but he still needs help from us to balance and go any kind of distance. But he loves walking! While he still needs a copilot, he loves trying and we can tell he’s got the heart of an explorer. He loves to climb and has a reserve of energy I truly envy. He’s also got an uncanny aim. His pitching arm is a little scary!
The point is, dads, for every delay and struggle, if you look for it, you will find an amazing strength and ability in return. Our children are astonishing! They may take some time getting there, but we should never diminish their potential. Our children look to us to see what’s possible. As dads, we have to remember that every child is different and it’s our job to help our kids believe they’re capable of anything. That’s what sons and daughters look to their fathers for-- and that goes beyond any diagnosis. That’s universal for anyone who’s lucky enough to be a dad. So take heart -- our kids may need some extra help sometimes. How wonderful that when they look for it, we’re there to let them know that that’s okay -- and that’s an amazing feeling.