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Sparkly things - Parenting - how much is too much?

The following article was written for this month's newsletter for a group I belong to. Basically we are a group of people that are good at solving mathematical and spatial puzzles, and that also share a fascination for sparkly things. We also share a corresponding lack of focus, so are thus unlikely to rule the world/country/city/home. We also have varying degrees of social skills, but we aren't all like Sheldon, many of us are fun to hang out with and have egos that fit quite nicely into our skulls. Some of our members are politicians, some are philosophers, some are cab drivers, some are unemployable. Many are parents too, possibly with some unique problems - hence the article. Note that I pretended to a more extreme stance than my own views, in the hope of encouraging some debate in our group - or here in my blog.

The article ... 

I think that we, as Mensoids, tend to parent too much. Too much time, and too much obsession over details. Not that I blame us, really.

Part of growing is learning, and part of that is taking risks, and part of that is occasionally failing. As young Mensoids we excel with ease in some things, and we learn to like and prefer that success. So we choose to chase after sparkly things, hopping from topic to topic, avoiding risks and the discomfort of failure, encouraged by overprotective parents who believe - rightly so - that we are special in some ways. But just as we excel in some things, we balance it by often under-performing in some others, such as social skills and communication. And occasionally show a lack of patience with others that don't “get” us.

Because of this we often have difficult childhoods - I know I did. I didn't have many friends that were suspended from kindergarten for a week. But more on that later.

Likely we will be blessed/cursed with smart kids- as in rewarding, fun, intriguing, precocious, challenging, obstinate, annoying. Kids all too willing to argue and nag back and forth all day, a dangerous loop for a parent to fall into.

However, after all the trials and tribulations of childhood we experience (or cause) we resolve to do better for our kids, and end up over-compensating. We research all the latest theories and methods, experiment with several of them at a time, and agonize over every detail in our children's upbringing. Eventually our kids head out to butt heads with the school system, where the curriculum is usually geared to the average child, and with class sizes of more than 20 students, there's only a few minutes for each one in an hour. Those minutes might go to the kids that can benefit most, to the fast learners, but more likely they go to the slower ones, those that need to be helped along. We will often butt heads too with teachers that are not "understanding" enough or just plain busy. Some parents, if they can afford it, may choose private specialty schools to nurture and develop their children better, to surround them with peers, and to encourage more sparkly things. A mixed blessing for them, as at some point they will have to join and somehow try to fit in with the real world. Despite all our concerns, eventually we will have to let go of our kids - be they 20 or 30 or 40 years old - and let them learn to make choices and be themselves, to succeed at some things and to do some things the "wrong way".

And that suspension of mine? Well, I had attended play school for two years at the local "Y", and I did have lots of fun with blocks and colouring and even some sharing and socializing. But once I went to kindergarten, to real school, I was reading already and eager for more challenges, NOT just more blocks and colouring. By the second week I was frustrated enough to kick the teacher in the shins. So, there I was, suspended for the week. When they found out my father was way up there as a Director in the Department of Education they wanted to forgive and forget all and let me back, but my mother insisted I stay at home and continue my punishment.

Sitting in my room reading.


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