Dear Annie: Our dear grandson is 5. He’s bright, energetic, kind and wonderful. He speaks with a slight lisp. So did his mother when she was his age.
Thanks to a caring teacher who pointed it out to us, we took our daughter to a speech therapist. In just a few sessions, the therapist cured her lisp.
Now my wife and I want for our daughter to do the same for her son, but she refuses. She says the way he speaks is “cute” and everyone can understand what he says, so there’s no need to bother with the speech therapy.
The truth is that our daughter and son-in-law are both very busy with their work and their large family. We think she is ignoring the lisp because they don’t have time to get him to a therapist. We also think it will be easier to take care of this now and don’t want him to be teased about his lisp at school.
We’ve offered to pay for the therapy. What else can we do?
Dear Granddad: Ask your daughter how her son will feel if his classmates start teasing him, asking him to say certain words — the ones where his lisp is pronounced — so they can get a good laugh at his expense.
Neither he nor they will think his lisp is “cute.” Being mocked as a child is almost inevitable for your grandson if this lisp continues, and that kind of humiliation can be damaging. It’s best to work through speech problems early.
Because his parents are so busy, is there any chance you and your wife could volunteer to take your grandson to a speech therapist? You are generous to offer to pay for the therapy. I’m on your side on this one and hope you will keep after your daughter.
Dear Readers: One of the most common themes in letters I receive involve hurt feelings, anger or resentment over being criticized. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately and found a brilliant article that appeared earlier this year in the Harvard Business Review that addresses this issue. The article is by leadership expert and best-selling author Peter Bregman.
Bregman presents 13 ways that we react to negative feedback. They include justifying, rationalizing or ignoring negative feedback:
1. Play Victim: “Yes, that’s true, but it’s not my fault.”
2. Take Pride: “Yes, that’s true, but it’s a good thing.”
3. Minimize: “It’s really not such a big deal.”
4. Deny: “I don’t do that!”
5. Avoid: “I don’t need this job!”
6. Blame: “The problem is the people around me. I hire badly.”
7. Counter: “There are lots of examples of me acting differently.”
8. Attack: “I may have done this (awful thing), but you did this (other awful thing).”
9. Negate: “You don’t really know anything about X.”
10. Deflect: “That’s not the real issue.”
11. Invalidate: “I’ve asked others and nobody agrees with the feedback.”
12. Joke: “I never knew I was such a jerk.”
13. Exaggerate: “This is terrible, I’m really awful.”
When I read this list, I saw myself many times in his reaction summaries. Bregman offers a perfect reply for handling negative feedback: “I really appreciate your taking the time and the effort to tell me. Thank you.”
I love it because it is short and sweet and nondefensive. I hope all of you who have written to me about handling criticism will find this helpful.
Dear Readers: If any of you have nice Father’s Day poems or tributes that you would like me to print, please submit them! I always love hearing loving stories.
Annie Lane, a graduate of New York Law School and New York University, writes this column for Creators Syndicate. Email questions to email@example.com.