My daughter is almost 3 years old and her vocabulary is limited to about 20 words we can understand. None of them are incredibly clear when spoken, but her mom and I have learned to make out what we can and rely on gestures for the rest.

As her parents, we are excited for the day when our precious child can verbally communicate her thoughts, desires and feelings to us. The day she can tell us about her pretend adventures with her dolls, let us know why she is upset, or, eventually, say, “I love you”.

It can be hard to wait and there is definitely a growing frustration as she wants to express more than we are able to understand. But, in all honesty, the most frustrating aspect of this situation has been the reactions of other people.

Usually, they are quick to give us unsolicited advice based on their own limited knowledge of toddler speech development or tell us about a friend of a friend of a friend who’s second-cousin’s child struggled with the same thing. The worst, though, is when people, in so many words, tell us how we are to blame by not reading to her enough, giving her whatever she wants instead of forcing her to ask or even keeping her from environments which would encourage more speech (all of which are very inaccurate).

It’s sad to realize how we have come to shy away from the topic or even refrain from asking for prayer to avoid the comments, which inevitably come, from someone with little understanding of the situation.

The ultimate blessing I have come to understand through this time is my increased capacity for empathy for parents who are dealing with similar situations and even those much worse. To be a listening ear, have a prayerful heart and let another person know how our own lack of understanding does not mean we are unable to feel and support another even without imparting our own perceived words of wisdom.

We know and truly believe, whether through therapy or in time, our daughter will be speaking like other children her age and remain grateful to the Lord to be blessed with a perfectly healthy and beautiful child with such a minuscule problem as this.

And for all the parents out there dealing with their own struggles, we pray you find caring and compassion from those around you a thousand times more than unwarranted “words” of direction.

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