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Parenting and Milestones (0-18 and beyond)

"Life is a lively process of becoming."

Douglas MacArthur

I was recently drawn to a display of children’s books in a local bookstore. Before me stood the book, Snow by Uri Shulevitz. It is a fun story of the wonder of a snowy day. I immediately remembered all the times my kids and I read it together. There are different theories on the best way to teach your child to read. I spent many hours working with young readers as an educator and believe that wanting to read is just as important as being able to read for young children. When a child is ready to read or tie their shoes or to take on a new skill, often things will click.

I have a friend who is a teacher. When her children were small she set up a little school in the corner of her house. They spent time learning pre-reading skills together and her kids became good readers. My friend loved it and her kids loved being with her.

In my case, I simply read to our kids. We also played with books and sang along with books and had fun with reading. In time, both our kids learned to read. It came in stages. I remember reading Good Night Moon to one of our kids as they were approaching their first birthday. After what felt like hundreds of readings, I found myself changing up the story to make it a little more interesting. My child voiced a protest, “Ah”. I continued on with my new story line and again, “Ah”. I wondered if it was because I had changed the story. I went back to the original words and my child happily settled into my lap once again. To my surprise it seemed that they were on the right track to becoming readers from almost the very beginning.

One of the great challenges of parenting is discovering who you are and who your child is and then being confident in the process of becoming. We often put undue pressure on ourselves as parents. It can be tempting to wonder if there is something wrong with our parenting or with our child and it can be easy to compare our situation with others. The pressure to make sure your child is reaching developmental milestones starts young and continues — from learning how to walk to applying to college. The truth is that we all grow at our own pace, in our own time.

One of the great challenges of parenting is discovering who you are and who your child is and then being confident in the process of becoming.

I remember talking to another mom, years ago. Our children were small then and she had kids in High School. She had just attended a parenting seminar at the local school. She said the speaker started by asking anyone who had a son or daughter who was above average to raise their hand. Then he asked everyone to look around. The auditorium was full and nearly every single hand was up. Then he said something that surprised them all, “You know that’s not possible, right? If everyone has a son or daughter who is above average, then above average is actually average.”

I remind myself of this every once in a while. We are all in the same boat, trying to figure things out as we go along. As parents, we may sometimes feel like we are lagging behind. Perhaps wanting to be a good parent is a sign that we’re on the right track. Maybe we need to be patient with ourselves until things click. In the meantime, we can enjoy our children and be ready to learn, grow and receive help along the way. It takes a long time to grow into ourselves, as children and as parents.


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