My definition of “healthy” has always been pretty expansive.
My first surgery occurred when I was 7 years old; I have a long list of therapists, specialists, surgeons, and doctors to make anyone’s eyebrows raise. The medical bills? Sorry, mom and dad. Sorry, husband.
But despite the long list and history, I’ve always considered myself healthy. Or rather, I haven’t ever felt less than the next person. I’ve never felt my medical history decreases who I am.
My grandma nearly died of breast cancer; she lost all of her hair and wore thin like paper. She was never any less valuable, weaker, or broken in my eyes.
As we journeyed to grow our family, we knew there was a chance our children may need extra assistance: therapy. I have never been afraid of the word, the idea, the reality of therapy.
The phrase ‘As long as our baby is healthy’ never left my mouth because I know in society’s eyes, our future baby may not meet its standard of healthy. But that didn’t mean I’d love or want him any less. That didn’t mean he’d be worth less.
Fast forward a couple years and between our two kids, we meet with around 15 specialists and attend multiple recurring therapy appointments. We have a new weekly therapy beginning next month.
We find no shame in any of this–in going to therapy.
Somewhere along the lines of our society, therapy began to [or always has] equate unhealthy. Therapy equates problems, messed up, less than perfect. Therapy equates broken.
There is a piercing, silent stigma surrounding therapy of any kind.
Anytime our doctor suggests a new specialist or therapist for one of our sons, she does so slowly. It’s almost as if to brace for the impact, the push back she expects from us. Time and time again, she has breathed deeply and responded with, “Man! I like you guys, you’re ready to just roll with the punches and not be mad about it.”
Our son is delayed in speech? Great, let’s utilize the therapy available to us to catch him up. Our son’s mouth muscles are delayed and improperly working? Awesome, I am thankful there are specialists for this sort of thing. Our son doesn’t know how to cope when he becomes frustrated? Let’s meet with his therapist and find coping mechanisms.
As parents, it is our job to do our best to help our children succeed. If therapy of any form is suggested, I don’t see why we wouldn’t take them. Therapy only benefits their lives, gives them (and you!) skills to combat the challenges they have, and won’t hurt.
I cannot tell you the amount of invaluable parenting tools I’ve learned from our varying therapy appointments.
To us, therapy of any kind is one of the most useful tools available to us. If I push back to therapy, it stems from a deep place of pride: therapy is a humbling reminder that we need help raising our kids.
We must break down this unhelpful fear and stigma that if we go to therapy, we are imperfect, broken, and messed up. I mean, let’s be honest: we are all a bit of those and therapy wouldn’t hurt any of us.
The question isn’t: “Should we take our child to therapy,” it is, “Why wouldn’t we if he needs it?”