dogs fighting
Image via Jordan Fischer on Flickr

[twitter]The rules of competitive parenting are simple: I don’t get a say in how you raise your kid, until how you decide to raise your kid affects how I’m raising mine.

You can see where this going.

I really don’t get to tell you if you want to breastfeed. Yes, breast is best, but if it doesn’t work for you, none of my business. Circumcision? That’s your call pal. Whether or not your son is snipped has no bearing on the health and happiness of my child. None (but it might affect the health of yours). 

As you move down the list, the parenting choices start to overlap a little bit. Vaccinations are not a choice. They’re common sense. If you ‘choose’ to not vaccinate your child, you are harming the health of the greater society. We get an opinion on your vaccination schedule, because it affects us.

Don’t get me wrong, we all love our kids and want the best for them. There are many different avenues in parenting these little monsters to get to the finish line, and how we pick and choose doesn’t matter. Until it does.

We could all use a big dollop of parental empathy in our morning coffee, but you gotta stick up for your kid when the world is trying to push him down. Right?

Charlie First Day of Grade 1

Which is why I’m, once again, sticking up for Charlie in the face of redshirting nonsense.

This week I’ve been online championing a piece that argues red shirting your kindergarten kid, holding them back from the starting at the suggested age, is a terrible idea:

Professor Samuel Wang is a neuroscientist at Princeton and the co-author of Welcome to Your Child’s Brain. “There is no evidence that holding back a child from entering school does him/her any good in the long run. In fact, if a child is in the normal range, he gets a small advantage from being the youngest in a group, as opposed to the oldest in a younger group.” [Globe and Mail]

Read it again, people.

By being the youngest in their class, children are challenged more. They rise to those challenges and they succeed more often. I’m not talking about going Tiger Mom on your kids, I’m talking about what happens when you move the goal posts. When you try to make things easier for your kid, you make things worse for them. When you put your child in the stream, despite being at the back of the pack, they swim harder and fly higher.

I couldn’t agree more and still I’m getting blow back on my social feeds from parents whose kids are on the autism spectrum or just insisted their child “wasn’t ready.”

Whatever your arbitrary reason, the legitimate number of those needing to opt out is far less than those actually being held back. 1 in 10 kids in the US are being redshirted. That means 2 or 3 kids are a year older than everyone else in their classroom.

You may think that when you hold your kid back from starting kindergarten at 5 that you’re making a choice that is right for your child, but what you’re doing is upsetting the entire social structure of school. You’re trying to make your kid a leader, you’re trying to make your kid a star in sports, you’re trying to make the school syllabus easier for him. Really all you’re doing is screwing things up for yourself and for everyone else.

Charlie is 5. He’s in grade 1. He’s succeeding scholastically and has best friends, but I still look at those taller kids in the class picture. The ones who should be in grade 2. The ones who tip the social balance of the classroom and I wonder. I wonder why parents do it when there is no benefit to their children, and it just adds flies to the ointment of the classroom structure.

I don’t get to tell you how you raise your kids. I really don’t. But when you bend the rules and it affects those of us who follow them, I’m coming for you .. guns a shaming.

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