Welcome to ControverSunday! Yeah Sunday!
This week is free topic with a twist AKA ‘Into the Archives.’ So, I hope you have all had fun this week scouring through each others archives to find a great post to write your posts on. Once you have a post up, come back here and put a link in the comments and I will add your link under the badge asap. Haven’t played before? No problem! We are always happy to have someone new join in! Busy busy this weekend with holiday fun? No problem! Post anytime this week- we aren’t picky!
Thanks again to Perpetua for inviting me to guest host this week! And to Accidents for the stellar badge!
Mommy in Chief
Tortoise on the Loose
Our Lady of Perpetual Bread Crumbs
Adelphebre (did I get that right?)
First off, here is a great post by Brooke over at Mommy in Chief re: the ‘g-word‘ AKA gifted. Take a read through and then come back here to read my post in reference to it.
Okay, so this post for me falls into both the categories of “made me think differently about this topic” and “been meaning to write about this for a while.” Perfect!
You see, I think baby/toddler/kid milestones are a bunch of bull. In that I think we are all WAY too obsessed with them. Sure, yeah, I get why the doctors pay attention to them; if they see that a child is way behind the curve in one way or another it may trigger them to do some specific testing/looking into things that may help them spot a bigger problem that may need attention. Of course, we want the best care for our kids and we want any problems to be spotted early so they get the proper treatment.
But, overall, I think the focus these milestones get in our society is just overkill. Don’t get me wrong- there is nothing, NOTHING, wrong with being proud of your kid developments. Truth be told, the milestones serve as a kinda of route marker that shows how far your kid has come and everything they have learned. I think it is lovely to fill up a baby book with ‘firsts.’ We love to talk about our children, and there is nothing wrong with the occasional bragging about how wonderful your kid is- because they are wonderful! And we should be proud of their accomplishments.
And, as Brooke spoke about, we shouldn’t have to feel bad or keep our mouths shut if our kid seems to be hitting the milestones just a little (or a lot) early, simply because we don’t want to upset anyone else. Truth be told, there are some kids out there, for whom we really need to look at the question of ‘gifted’ because sometimes those kids do struggle in a school system where there isn’t enough challenge. Just like we have to look at the question of kids that are a bit behind, who also get frustrated in a school system where teachers do not have the time to give them the extra instruction/ type of instruction they need.
Bottom line is, conversations topics shouldn’t be off the table, just because we might offend an other parents who’s path is different.
Brooke says: “In our society, the “G” word is taboo. We can’t talk about our kids being smart, meeting milestones early. Instead of recognizing that some kids are in fact smarter than others (and that this is, in fact, a good thing in society), we say that all kids are gifted in their own way. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that all kids have gifts. But there isn’t anything wrong with being average, just like there is nothing wrong with being gifted, and there is nothing wrong with having a disability. They are just different places on the spectrum.”
I totally agree with this. Totally. But, I think it is worth point out two things. 1) This need to say that all kids are ‘gifted’ drives me nuts. It is a part of that whole ‘protecting our kids from ever failing’ thing, which I really disagree with. It is a part of that whole mentality that we should protect our kids from every having their feeling hurt by making them feel #1 in everything. The problem I have is that if you have a kid that from birth to age 18 never, ever fails… (they ‘pass’ all their tests even if they didn’t study, they make the soccer team even if they can’t kick the ball, they get to play a flute solo even if they can’t ever play it through without a mistake) what happens to that kid when they reach ‘the real world’ and have to face failure? Which is, after all, a part of life. I will tell you what happens, their Mom calls the university professor when they fail their midterm. Seriously. I digress.
But the second thing is that I do believe that all kids have their gifts. Everyone is good at something. The problem is that our society and our school system value a very specific set of somethings. And children who may possess other talents, but happen to not have the ones that would make them ‘book smart’ can grow up feeling like their talents have no value. Because in most schools they have no value. (The response to this problem thus far has sometimes been doing what I have said I dislike above; telling every kid they are good at everything, even if they aren’t) I believe we need to find a way to help every kid to have confidence in the things they do have talent for, so that they can have a positive view of themselves that is not defined just by the grade the get in school. At the same time, we need to guard against kids growing up being told they are perfect at everything, just to spare their feelings. This just sets them up for troubles when they hit adulthood.
That gets us to the real problem(s). We take our kids development too personally and/or we are scared into thinking something is WRONG if our kid is a bit behind the statistical average in one thing or an other. Lets deal with the taking it personally thing first.
I will say this again, there is nothing wrong with taking some pride in your kids accomplishments. But I think we all, myself included, sometimes attach how we view our success as parents to how our kids develop. We have failed if our kid doesn’t ‘sleep through the night’ at 6 months. Or if the kid isn’t crawling by 7 months. Or if they don’t have their first word by a year. Ect. And sure, it is possible that something we did at one point or an other could have had an impact on these things. And sure, we should try to do the best we can by our kids by encouraging healthy development (be that physical, socially, emotionally, intellectually ect.).
But beat ourselves up because our kid didn’t hit a milestone on time? Why? They all develop differently. They are their own person. We can’t live vicariously through them. Sure, maybe you want your kid to be successful in sports because you weren’t. Fine. But being supportive of their goals is different then making them practice t-ball every day because you want them to succeed. You get what I am saying, right? Just because you were top of your class, doesn’t mean you have failed as a parent if your kid isn’t top of the class. Furthermore, just because your baby isn’t uttering little sentences at 18 months doesn’t mean they won’t be top of their class in grade 10. Just like a kid that walks at 8 months won’t necessarily win the goal medal in the 100 meter sprint in 18 years. We need to take it less personally.
Secondly, those milestones put at the statistical average. Which means, by definition, some will be ahead and some will be behind. What does it matter? Even if your kid is pretty far behind, so long as you are doing what you can to support their development, why get worked up about it? Often, there is nothing you can do more then what you are already doing. I have heard of many a parent be worried sick by a doctor or a health care worker, because the kid hadn’t yet hit a milestone. I get that they have to be honest and tell you what to watch out for, but if everything that can be done is being done, why focus on it? The kid will catch up, or not, and adapt, and life will go on. We all have our struggles. Some more then others, sure.
And not to say that I wouldn’t be devastated if I was told my daughter wasn’t developing at a healthy pace. (Missing a couple milestones by a month or two doesn’t at all mean your kid isn’t developing at a healthy pace, by the way.) I don’t mean to down play those struggles at all. And I am not saying that in that position I wouldn’t worry too. I just think that in most cases we need to take a deep breath and give the kid some time. And lots of love. And not expect them to follow the doctors ‘schedule.’ It’s just a piece of paper.