Saturday, April 2, 2011
By the book
Our pediatrician, very early in the course of things, explained to us exactly how to use the book. You put it under a table leg to stop the table from rocking. You can also use the pages to start the charcoal in your grill during the summer months.
Now to be fair, her advice was not solely directed at Dr. Spock's book, but generally all "how to" books on parenting. Her reasoning was that new parents, especially first time new parents, will- among other things - read these books and start comparing developmental milestones listed in the book with their own child's development, and if they don't match, get unnecessarily worried. Every child is different and the developmental milestones are averages, not necessarily carved in stone event dates.
Sometimes these books will tell parents that something in particular must be done at a specific age. When "the book" said it was time to introduce fish to my daughter's list of foods, my wife diligently did so. My daughter hated it. When she discussed it with our pediatrician, she simply said to my wife, "She doesn't like it, so don't feed it to her."
And toys and games with ages on them are also just suggestions. A child may well be ready for a toy that says it's for a particular age before they actually are that age. This is where common sense and knowing your child become the real skills of parenting.
Yet, even today I still see parents reading books of this type and getting concerned if their child does not hit those milestones when the book says they should. I saw this recently with my own grandtwins, who today turn 18 months old. A year and a half! (At 2 years old we stop counting by months, right?) We knew that they were physically capable of walking, but neither of them had actually taken more than a step or two by themselves without holding on to someone or something. People were getting concerned. I said all along that one of these days they would simply decide it was time and then just take off. (My daughter almost "failed" kindergarten because she couldn't skip, though there was nothing wrong developmentally. She just never really had a reason. So we practiced skipping.) Sure enough, one day they decided to get going.
Life will never be the same for my son or daughter-in-law.