Your Kid’s Milestones Have Nothing To Do With How Good A Parent You Are
Milestones – they will be the bane of your parental existence. Is my child walking on time? Talking on time? Is he social? Should he be able to ride that scooter? Barring some very obvious developmental delays, why do we care? I’m going to venture a guess; I think the reason we even think about these things is that it’s an easy way to measure how we’re doing as parents. Or so we think. My second kid taught me we are completely off the mark with that.
I obsessed over everything my first child wasn’t doing. He stood up at 12 months, and didn’t take a step until 14. I’m not kidding; he would just stand there sort of swaying. In the beginning, we would sit staring at him, just knowing we were about to catch his first step. Nope. Babies seemed to be toddling all over the playground. Not my child – he was very into standing.
The same was true for his talking. He started saying things like MamaÂ when he was around six months old. I remember thinking we obviously had a genius on our hands. He had a laundry list of vowel and consonant sounds he would make before he turned one. We thought he would be speaking early. Turns out, he didn’t start actually stringing words together until he was a little over two. Again, it was hard to avoid all the kids his age that seemed to be chatting endlessly. Was there a speech delay? Should we get it checked out?
It’s hard not to go into a tailspin of Do I read to him enough? Did I take enough fish oil? Is he getting enough social interaction? With my first child, I somehow managed to make everything he wasn’t doing about me. Maybe it was because I was new to parenting, but I thought for sure it was an indication of all the things I was doing wrong.
Then along came my second child. I did’t morph into some super-parent in the two-and-a-half years between the birth of my first child and the birth of my daughter, but all the things we were waiting with bated breath for my first child to accomplish – she did with ease. Walking? She had that mastered by 11 months. Pointing at things, turning pages, coloring, cleaning a chalkboard – she mastered all of these skills before her first birthday. The only difference was, we weren’t staring at her waiting for them to happen.
What I’m learning more and more each day is – kids have their own personalities, interests and motivations. I’m not saying don’t read to your kids, engage them in physical play, or take them to see someone if you think they are markedly falling behind. I’m saying – everything isn’t about us. Our kids are their own separate entities and they will progress when they are good and ready.
Don’t be too hard on yourself.