Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Keeping Up with the Mother Joneses

I've never considered myself a competitive person. An achiever....yes. Driven.....yes. Perfectionist at times....sure (not that I've succeeded at that, or should want to). Control freak. I do like things a certain way, I admit.

Well, that and more, needs to be abandoned when it comes to parenting, I'm quickly learning.

And, the other thing that I'm learning is not to compare myself or my child to others.

No book comes with parenting, though plenty are written on the subject. When Seth was little, I used to peruse some of them. These days I have little time for that and would sooner reach out to a parenting expert or seasoned mom friend who has been there, done that.

I did both recently after a chat with a mom friend that left me thinking...a lot.

She was speaking about a series of well-regarded books a friend had recommended as learning tools to teach your child when they are very young. And, she applauded how a couple of moms, in particular, who she knows, have used them with their children to teach them to read at a young age, etc.

I wondered what Seth is supposed to be capable of at this time. I spoke with his teacher who said he is progressing as he should in terms of knowing/writing letters, names, numbers, etc. But, I thought, is this enough? Should I be doing more? As a parent, we want our children to succeed. We have high aspirations for them and want to know that we're doing/have done our best.

No doubt there are varying schools of thought on this subject. But, there is something to be said for letting a child be a child. Sure academics are important, and school does seem WAY demanding these days, but quality play time is essential too. And, according to a parenting expert I well respect and have consulted with, at the age of 5, allowing your child's imagination to soar through creative play is something to strive for.

We can expose them to new experiences, and endeavor to share what we think is cool about the world. And, that is important. But, ultimately, they are their own person with interests, strengths, challenges, etc. that we can do our best to support and nuture...and they may not coincide with ours. But, that's ok.

One day our kids will fly on their own, and their childhood should be just that. A time of fun, games, love...and certainly learning...but it shouldn't be about "keeping up with the mother jones." And, I'm not saying that this mom friend or others I know view parenting as a contest. I'm just speaking for myself in that I need to...and want to... focus on Seth and his uniqueness...and let his natural abilities soar. Comparing him will surely not do either of us any good.

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Blogger Sang-Hee said...

Thought-invoking, Robin! With my pregnancy and the last four months since my daughter was born, I experienced a brand new desire, "to be average." I was happy to learn that I was right on track, that my daughter is right on track, at the 50th-percentile. And I wonder, at what point will I change, not being happy with "average" but wishing for an "above average"?

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