Monday, January 20, 2014

Parenthood: Week 34 - Pushing Ahead and Missing The Moment

When a kid starts crawling around some people start getting obsessed with their kid walking. That’s kind of silly, enjoy your kid crawling around, one of these days you will miss how your kid used to crawl. Don’t be in too much of a rush to see your kids grow up.
-Electrician who came by today to fix a broken dimmer switch.
Developmental milestones are exciting for parents. Moments like the first smile or the first time a baby rolls over demonstrate signs of health. More than this, these new “tricks” (as one of my friends called them) are important moments in life marking accomplishments and the passage of time.

As someone who studied child psychology and child development, I get extremely excited to see Ollie hit these milestones. I’m probably worse than most parents as it’s not only the big things like rolling over that gets me excited but also little things like Ollie holding something in his hand and turning his wrist.

One thing that bothers me is how sometimes people seem more obsessed with pushing babies to the next milestone than simply enjoying the place that they are at right now. I remember people trying to get Ollie to smile right after he was born. Why are you pushing so hard for this? It’s not going to happen. Stop trying so hard and enjoy the wonder that is newborn smell, the way that their little hands tighten and up and their bodies can be swaddled up into a cute little ball (oh, how I miss those newborn days).

I’ve heard of parents pushing their babies to sit up before they are ready or lead them around the room holding them by their shoulders in an attempt to get them to walk earlier. There’s people who try to get toddlers to do math that’s far too complex for their little brains and others who potty train their kids way too early.

I get it that it’s important to challenge and stretch babies capabilities. Right now, Ollie is really into saying “da.” It’s super cute but I don’t only talk to him with that syllable. I speak to him with other words. At the same time, I don’t sit him down in my lap and say words at him repeatedly hoping that he’ll replicate them.

I see this in parents of the students that I teach. They want so much for their students to be ahead of the curve, to master the next step and then immediately move onto the next point. While the motivation is great, wanting their kid to succeed and growing, constantly pushing onto the next goal in life seems to miss the point of . . . well. . . life.

Many people have told me advice like that electrician did jokingly referring to the fact that once you teach your kids to talk, you will wish that they never learned how to talk. While I get this joke, I think there’s something more to this comment.

Don’t worry so much about your baby’s next milestone. Yes, be aware of what your baby should be doing and help them learn to do new things.  Remember, the meaning of the milestone isn't in making it there but rather in  the process of getting there that you share.

Every stage of your child’s life will have things that you will wish you could experience again.  Each stage has their little special moments and magical things about them.  Enjoy those moments for what they are, not where they lead.

Don't love your child for what she can do or who she will be.

Love her for who she is.

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