I just read a long, neurotic, hand-wringing facebook thread about kindergarten birthday cut-offs being shifted two months back in a particular district. The OP, a parent of a child affected by the shift, was totally affronted by it. In the ensuing discussion, what she kept coming back to were things like, I would have hated being held back, I was the youngest and I was one of the best readers, I was so bored in school and being held back would have been awful for me, yadda yadda yadda. School age cut-offs aside (I mean, I don’t know her kid, but most kids benefit from being among the oldest in a grade), you get the point: her anxiety was all about what she had remembered of her own childhood and applied to her child.
Same morning, I read something about David McCullough Jr.’s book, You Are Not Special: and other encouragements (he was the guy who gave that you-are-not-special graduation speech in 2012). I doubt the book has any great, new insight since we’ve been hearing about this argument for years, but I found myself thinking, yeah, now we’re talking. Like I do every time I hear that kind of idea.
We read one parenting discussion and think, yeah that sounds about right. Or we read something else and think, OH THE HUMANITY (looking at you, lotus birth). We do this all the time because people never tire of talking about parenting (hello, me, I see you there) and there are more articles and stories and discussions like this than anyone can handle.
Thing is, I’m pretty sure that my chosen philosophies and beliefs about childhood development are guided by whatever innate parenting instincts I’m bringing to the table, which originate in what I have internalized from my own childhood. Which is a really intellectualized way of saying I’m just doing what I know. And I think we’re all kind of doing this. The upset lady dealing with a birthday cut-off is doing this in a rather obvious way. Alfie Kohn (I’m so sorry, Alfie! I’m sure you’re a great dood.) and Angela Duckworth are doing this on a doctorate level. But we all start with something and there are infinite ways to form or guide our innate beliefs into something rational, and most of the time, even supported by professionals.
And I think this is totally ok.
(Mostly because I’m not sure these details matter that much once you’re that high up in the hierarchy of needs, but that is another issue.)
Sometimes I just need to remind myself to be self-aware.
Image credit: Krysthopher Woods