Finding the words

hands

I can truly say my single greatest accomplishment in life is being a parent. A parent with a stutter. To my daughters, though, I am not "a dad that stutters", but just dad. Early on I instilled in them to have acceptance and respect for people. This is a core value that will help shape my how my daughters view and treat others. I truly feel that teaching our children to be accepting of others is best done through real-life experience. By that, I mean showing our children that we can be comfortable in our own skin, even when we are not perfect. This is, of course, a lot easier said than done, yet definitely a life lesson worth teaching.

For all  parents the ability to communicate with our children is one of the single most important things we will ever do. Communication above all else is key as its the main thread in which we raise our children.  For those who stutter, the manner and means in which we do this may be different.

As a counsellor that has worked with various demographics streaming from children as young as six to adults in their sixties, I can truly tell you that what one views as " normal" and socially acceptable is based on how one is taught to perceive things. My eldest daughter has grown up thinking and learning that the way her dad talks is really no different than anyone else –  it just takes dad a little longer to get the words out at times. I talked to her about this early on. Everybody's little differences make us unique and who we are.

Teaching our children acceptance and patience early on is key. As a single father it's all that much more important that my children learn this. Michael J Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, was once quoted as saying "acceptance is equal to one's happiness." This is so true when we look at how we perceive and accept one's differences.

Raising my daughters with a open mind and open heart is key and most important to me as a parent. It's important to recognize that the manner and means in which we communicate with our children can be unique. As individuals we share a common heart and want to be loved and respected, for the unique people we are above all else.

Richard Lutman is a CSA Board member and lives in Stratford.