Make Room For The Stuttering

Please Mom, No Talking Tonight

Posted on: May 18, 2017

There was a very thought provoking post made on Facebook this week from a parent. It seems her teenage son asked her not to speak at a school parent meeting they were attending. Specifically, the boy told his mom that when she “twitches,” she looks weird. When mom asked her son what he meant, he said she twitches when she stutters. Needless to say, she was embarrassed and mortified.

There were dozens of replies to mom’s post, most in support of her and hoping that she was OK. Some, like myself, offered reassurance that teenagers are embarrassed by everything their parents do, but that this issue should be talked about.

Other comments focused on the disrespect of the boy, suggesting that he be punished for what he said. Many then disagreed with those comments, feeling the moment should be used as a talking point and teaching opportunity.

As we know, talking about stuttering can be difficult. Often, it’s the “elephant in the room,” never getting talked about. People are embarrassed to talk about differences or challenges, or feel they risk making things worse by bringing “it” up. Stuttering is complex, as it’s an emotionally charged issue, not just a physical impediment. As we see from mom’s post, she was mortified and embarrassed by what her son said.

But deeper than what he said, mom was probably embarrassed by what her son may think of her. Mom may now be wondering how long her son has felt this way and why it never came up before. Mom may now become even more self-conscious of her stuttering, if she wasn’t already before.

It really struck me how many people responded to this post. I wonder how many times this kind of conversation has occurred between parents who stutter and their teenage children. Or hasn’t. It speaks to me to the reason we should be as open as we can about stuttering. Parents of fluent children should be sure to have open discussion about differences and that stuttering is just the parent’s way of talking.

This very open conversation on Facebook reminded me of a NSA friend, Stacey, who has quite a severe stutter. She is parent to a teenage daughter. The daughter has never been embarrassed by her mom’s stuttering, as they have had open conversations about stuttering since the child could talk. She think’s it’s normal that her mom stutters and isn’t bothered by it, even as an infamous teenager.

What do you think? How would you have reacted had this been your son making this comment to you? How can we use stuttering as a teachable moment?

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Same protection applies to the podcasts linked to this blog, "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories" and "He Stutters: She Asks Him." Please give credit to owner/author Pamela A Mertz 2017.