Monday, April 14, 2008

How could mothers do that? (Part 2)

Last week I agonised over a nine-year-old in the UK here.

The news over the weekend is still about a certain Maths genius who has adopted my surname (yes!) and is making a rather tidy sum (taxed or untaxed, who knows?) being a high class 'social escort'.

My husband pointed me to the article: Pushy parents: the naked truth. As we've been told that our son is highly gifted, any article about geniuses (genuii?) is of great interest to us.

Anyway, said genius's pictures are plastered all over the media, helping to sell newspapers, no doubt, and thousands of column inches and blog posts must have been written. I add my own.

There are dysfunctional families amongst the illiterate and lowly-educated, and there are dysfunctional families amongst the highly-educated. And the media already well know there are dysfunctional families amongst the most well-heeled and well-educated.

Genius's mum has also started a blog, further muddying the waters. There have been claims and counter-claims about how the genius was actually brought up. I suspect the public will never know the whole truth.

Maybe I am not so interested in the details. The point seems to be there are parents who will think that children who achieve their 'milestones' earlier are better than those who achieve theirs later. Some make capital of such children and some make capital out of such children.

I live not too far from a 'college' -- a private set-up -- that hot-houses young children, and boast of many who sit public exams or being the youngest with the highest IQs, etc.

I plead with parents who have such children, whether they are gifted academically, in sport, in music, drama, etc, to please give your children a childhood.

Such news only help to remind me that we (husband and I) need to know when to encourage as a parent, and when to cut our children some slack. In our household, I think we tend to err on the side of being too slack. The thing is we will never know until our children have grown up and they are able to say, "Wow! I enjoyed growing up with mum and dad," or "You gave me hell."

So shall I make our son practise his piano and clarinet every day? (He does not, at the moment.)

Shall I set the timer to make sure he does at least 15 minutes of each every day? (We do not, at the moment.)

Should I worry if all he wishes to do is make more and more complex, transforming Lego models?

Or shall I make him sit down to revise for his exams which are coming up in two weeks?

I don't know. Parenting -- especially parenting an only -- is so hit-and-miss. Help!

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