We all want our kids to succeed. Not only to make their lives better, but also (and we’re all lying if we don’t admit it) because we can look good as parents and thus seem successful to others.
You know what I’m talking about. You’re at the park with another mom and her kid. Momma #1 starts talking about how little McKinsley is doing so spectacularly well in preschool and can already write her name as well as recite the Bill of Rights. This of course leads to a “battle of skills” as you start wracking your brain for what your little Pilot Inspektor did that could blow that out of the water (and try desperately to make sure Momma #1 doesn’t realize your Little One is sucking the dust off of the playground gravel).
Why do toddler milestones have to be about what a child is achieving “earlier than normal” rather than just letting a kid hit those markers when they’re ready? It’s as though if your child isn’t a wunderkind, then he/she is “falling behind” and will never be anything above average.
When I was young, I didn’t really feel a lot of pressure from my parents to be a child prodigy. Sure, they read to me, worked with me on my ABC’s, numbers, colors, and shapes, but it was not a Tiger Mom scenario. I still went outside, played in the dirt, and climbed fences. I even watched TV—gasp!
There are many times I feel an enormous amount of pressure to make sure Huff the Babe is “excelling”. I don’t want her to get to pre-K and not be able to tell the teacher what her last name is or have no idea which shape is a circle. But is that me “feeding the machine” of perfectionist parenting or me simply wanting my child to succeed?
And, what’s so wrong about being “average”? I feel like society has turned into a narcissistic mass, all about marketing themselves as something better than everyone else. If we’re constantly comparing our children to other children, what makes us think that our kids won’t do that as they grow? Sure, you may think your kid can’t hear the comments you make about how they are “smarter than most kids their age” and “can do things other kids wish they could do”, but they hear you. And soon, it will become their inner dialogue.
“I am so much better than Tabby. She doesn’t even know what a protozoa is.”
“Charlie’s an idiot; I made my way through Trig in fifth grade.”
The truth of the matter is, all kids learn and develop at different stages. Everyone has different talents that they bring to the table. Shouldn’t we just be encouraging and patient with our kids instead of pressuring them to learn the seven continents before they’re 18 months old?
What about you? Do you feel as though there are tougher demands now on kids academically rather than when you were a child? Do you feel inadequate as a parent if your kid hasn’t learned what Johnny-Down-The-Block has learned?