Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 2, 2007 / 21 Mar-Cheshvan 5768

It's OK to have an average child

By Betsy Hart


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I'm not sure when I lost the competitive-parent race. But make no mistake, I lost.


Or rather, decided early not to compete.


I'm not sure when it all began. But my kids didn't go to preschool because that seemed rather unnecessary to me, and I wanted them home for those years anyway.


Later my then-second-grade daughter, along with her classmates, was tested as a matter of routine for the "gifted" program, which began in third grade at her public school. I was barely aware of the testing, and only glanced at her raw number results before filing them away. So I was surprised when I received an e-mail from the teacher to all of the parents, literally begging them to stop barraging her with inquiries about the "cutoff" for the gifted program before she herself had the information.


Flash forward: When my family moved to the Chicago area from the D.C. suburbs, I couldn't have been happier to discover that here, children were not expected to be fully reading in kindergarten.


So, I was more than a little pleased to read "Rush, Little Baby: How the Push for Infant Academics May Actually be a Waste of Time — or Worse" by Neil Swidey of the Boston Globe. Featured in the recent Sunday Magazine, it was a great profile of parents who push their littlest kids to intellectual extremes. And for what?


He writes about mothers who show their 3-month-old reading and math flashcards every day. Several studies released in recent years show that such efforts have no positive effect on the child's cognitive development. But Swidey says that's just one part of the picture. Flashcards for babies "might actually be no more extreme than the increasing mania among professional parents to armor their youngsters with every educational enrichment program available — Baby Einstein DVDs at 3 months, junior Kumon tutoring at 2-1/2 years, SAT summer camps at 15 — all at the expense of old-fashioned but vitally important unstructured play."


I wonder: Just how many parents today would admit to having a wonderfully average child?


Maybe I'm not on that track because of how my parents raised me. I'm the youngest of five. Yes, there were a few horseback-riding and ballet lessons. But that was about it.


Only, that wasn't "it." Our house was full of books, my mother read to me a lot and pursued an advanced degree and professional success, my father was busy supporting the family, and my parents' friends were interesting and our home was one where ideas were discussed and debated. But here's what I remember most: My parents and their friends didn't talk down to us. We kids had to get our act together and talk "up" to them.


My parents' world didn't revolve around me. Their egos weren't tied up in me. They wanted their children to become whole people of character. What a gift. What freedom, in the best sense, to develop all of me. And what a difference, I think, from many of today's parents who are on the competitive track.


Of course I want my own kids to do well in school. Not because it's a "ticket" to something, but because it's their calling to be the best students they can be. And yes, education is a gift.


So look, maybe I'm just an anti-snob snob, or a rebel at heart. Maybe I know at some level that I couldn't successfully push my kids anyway. For me, just successfully chasing all four children into their pajamas at night can be a stretch.


And yes, I know that the "competitive parents" love their kids like crazy, too, and want the best for them.


But I also know I want so much more for my kids than a Baby Einstein DVD could give them, even if it worked. When it comes to my children, my ultimate goal for them is heaven, not Harvard. If they go to the latter on their way to heaven, that's great. But if I reverse that equation, I've failed them.


For this parent, that's the ultimate motivation.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Betsy Hart, a frequent commentator on CNN and the Fox News Channel, can be reached by clicking here.

BUY BETSY'S BOOK
"It Takes a Parent : How the Culture of Pushover Parenting is Hurting Our Kids — and What to Do About It"  

"Hart urges parents to focus...on instilling industry, frugality, sincerity and humility. She encourages parents to reclaim the word "no." Contrary to advice you may have received, you needn't give your child choices, or offer alternatives, or explain to little Suzie why she can't eat eight cookies right before bed-you're the parent, and sometimes you can just say no."

  —   Kirkus Reports

Sales help fund JWR.

Betsy Hart Archives

© 2007, Scripps Howard News Servic

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles