How I Became That Parent

Vikram Bath

Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1.

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9 Responses

  1. I sounds to me that she wants to improve her reading skills, but you are doubting her motive for wanting this. This seems rather a lot of effort to go to to find something to worry about. Just wait. When they are this age, their inner lives are open to their parents. That will change soon. You will find that you have no idea what is going on in her head, giving your imagination free rein to find things to worry about.Report

    • Doctor Jay in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      I endorse this strongly.

      And, at a significantly older age, I recall entering college and finding that many of my peers had had calculus in high school. I was salty about this, because I was behind. I was behind due to no fault of my own, but because my school was too small to offer AP Calculus – in fact, I had never heard the phrase “AP Calculus”. I think this might be along the lines of what your daughter felt.

      As it turns out, I passed most of those people. I don’t know exactly when that happened, but I looked around one day and discovered I was probably better at math than a lot of the people I knew who took math in high school.

      I love what you’re doing Vikram – it cultivates the joy of reading for its own sake.Report

    • PD Shaw in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      I mostly agree with this, but I do think it is significant that there is both a reading interest and a social issue. I have twin nieces in early grade school and one of them reads at a higher level than the other, and the other asked her parents why. That’s not the conundrum the author here faces, but kids aren’t just containers filled with knowledge given to them by parents and teachers, they are watching and making their own judgments.

      None of this is to suggest there is a social issue that the parent needs to address; it just sounds like something to keep in the back of the mind to avoid potential negative messages. I think that’s what you are suggesting here, pick up on the positive message that she wants to read better.Report

  2. My children beg me – BEG ME – to give them grades. They don’t even go to public school and yet are exquisitely aware that they will be and are being held up and ranked against others. And they like it.

    Then again they just spent all morning painting and acting as if discovering red and yellow making orange was akin to curing cancer, so who knows.Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to Kristin Devine says:

      My daughter goes to a really awesome school, which does not make a big deal of testing. I have a minor quibble with this, as it really goes into an active anti-testing ideology.

      When the provincial standard tests come out there’s a fairly strong social pressure to write an exemption request for one’s child – if nobody writes the test, nobody has to invigilate, and it’s not an area the school wants to focus energy on. So fair enough.

      But test-writing is an important skill in its own right – knowing how to divide up time so you don’t get hung up on one question you don’t know and run out of time to do three you do, not getting discouraged when you know you got some of the answers wrong, etc. She’s going to need that skill. We can download some tests to practice at home, but it’s not the same. I think next year I’ll spend the time to pen a reply to the school outlining my support for testing, and volunteer my time to invigilate the tests if that makes it easier on people.Report

  3. dragonfrog says:

    Thus have I become what I swore I would not. Or at least I became something different than what I had originally planned. I would love to let my daughter grow her capabilities in different areas at her own speed, but not if that risks making her unhappy.

    You are letting your daughter grow her capabilites at her own preferred speed! That’s exactly what you are doing, and you’re doing a fantastic job of it!

    Listening when she defines her speed, and helping her to progress at the speed she defines, is a mandatory part of that process, and this is a story of her defining her speed and you helping her achieve it.Report

    • PD Shaw in reply to dragonfrog says:

      Yeah, allowing one’s daughter to have agency in the books she reads is not even close to helicoptering.

      Though took advantage of the public library; let the kids browse and find what interests them. Let them take as many as they wanted / allowed. Maybe occasionally remind them to look at a few pages to make sure that its something they want to read.Report

  4. Dark Matter says:


    “Becoming That Parent” is another way to say you adapted to fit your child’s needs. And yes, not thinking themselves the worst kid in the class is a “need”. So ideology lost out to good parenting.

    Well done.Report

  5. bookdragon says:

    It sounds like this isn’t “school is absolutely judging” her as a miniature adult, since the teacher is saying she’s on level and recognizes her development in social and emotional areas. What this sounds like is her wanting to be able to read the same things as most of her peers and in the process of undertaking a plan to reach that goal, discovering a love of reading.

    You helped her do that, so you have done a good job as a parent!

    Reading will open so many doors for her, not just in terms of academic achievement, but in expanding her imagination and range of ideas.

    And btw, my kids started kindergarten reading at 3rd grade level, bit it wasn’t because of intensive parenting pushing them to achieve. It’s for the same reason that I started at roughly that level way back in the 70s when no one (certainly no one in our socioeconomic class) cared about pushing academic skills for pre-K – I was read to by people who loved reading. (Used to joke that I learned to read early out of self-defense. A typical evening at home was my mom is on the couch with a book, my dad in a recliner with a book, and my grandmother in another chair with a book).

    Learning to read early was not a burden that took away from my experience of childhood. It was gift that enhanced my life then and now – one I am glad I could pass on.Report