Let Them Stay Young

There is an insanity that hits some of us upon the birth of our first child. I’ll admit that it hit me. There’s a sudden need to have this child meet every milestone and be the first and the best and the earliest and the smartest. We’re pulling out What to Expect the First Year and comparing the baby’s development. We’re talking to friends, and even though we’re too polite to boast, we’re secretly rejoicing that our child is several milestones “ahead.”

Letting our children enjoy childhood

The insanity doesn’t stop stop after the What to Expect book ends. Now we feel the need to begin signing this child up for anything and everything. We wouldn’t want them to get “behind” now would we? And so we look for gymnastics and dance and sports and music classes. And we attend every free program that library hosts. Now we can up the comparisons. “Look at poor little Suzy. She’s only signed up for three events, and she’s already four! She’s going to be so far behind.”

What do you mean my child is too young for that?

We push and we push. “What do you mean my child is too young for that? I know other children aren’t mature enough, but he’s so far advanced.”

The pushing doesn’t end with all of the activities we sign them up for. We want them to look grown up- isn’t it cute? So we buy outfits that make our five year old look like a preteen. We want them to act grown up. So we tell them they’re too old to play baby dolls anymore. Or that, surely, they don’t want to play with that child- “She’s too young for you!” And “why do you want to watch that movie? It’s for babies.”

We push them to have grown up experiences. We let little girls wear make up. If we can afford it, we buy ten year olds cell phones.

 I want to embrace the fact that each individual grows and learns and matures at his or her own pace. 

I’m not pointing fingers. I’m confessing. I’ve done some of these things myself.

But I want to stop. Before it’s too late. I want to encourage my girls- even my big girl- to play baby dolls. I want us to play games together- even “baby” games. I want to make homemade Valentines and watch animated movies. I want to embrace the fact that each individual grows and learns and matures at his or her own pace. That’s why we’re called individuals. I want to stop comparing how much my child knows with how much my friend’s child knows. I want to protect my children from having “grown up” experiences too soon.

I want to allow my children to enjoy childhood. And better yet, I want to enjoy it with them. Instead of keeping us so busy that we aren’t ever at home together, I want to have slow nights for family games. I want to sit around and talk and just be goofy. I want to watch kids put on shows that they made up.

I want to let them stay young, and I want to stay young with them.


More to read about parenting…

Parenting kids to be good

Parenting teens

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