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Apr 10

Parental guilt

I blame myself.  For pretty much all of it.  To be fair, I also give myself credit when things are going well.  When the kids are well behaved, healthy, happy.  But when there are problems – I’m pretty sure it’s all my fault.    Case in point, my little Samilicious Boy.  His teacher is recommending that we hold him back for an extra year of kindergarten and I’m horrified.  Can’t stop trying to figure out where I messed up, where did I go wrong?  I feel bitterly betrayed by the attachment parenting movement – which assured me over and over again that if I held him when he cried, if I nursed him until he was ready to stop, if I co-slept and loved him and nurtured him – he’d grow into a confident, secure kid.  But I did all of those things, and his teacher wants to hold him back because she fears he’s too fragile to handle the pressure of first grade.  How did I manage to screw up so badly?  Why can my five year old not hack it like his friends?

So, you see, I blame myself.  Maybe I did baby him.  That’s what my family is going to think.  They told me not to nurse him that long.  But I thought it was the right thing.  I still kind of think that it was, and given that I’m currently still nursing his almost two year old sister with no plans on stopping, I guess I must still think it was.  Because there’s a part of me that thinks that kids just are who they are.  And Sam’s not fragile, he’s just stubborn and determined and incredibly introverted.  He’s smart and kind and so, so sweet – and I think he’ll do just fine in first grade.

I think yesterday was a bad day, and to base a decision on his future ability to handle first grade on his behavior yesterday exclusively is not the right way to go.  I’m leaning strongly to pushing him ahead.  Academically, he can handle it, socially, he’s already advanced so much from where he was eight months ago at the start of the school year.

We’ll wait and see.  I googled yesterday – and found nothing really helpful.  It appears as though studies have shown that holding them back a year isn’t really that beneficial, and that more and more kids are being “redshirted”, and started a year late.  He’s vaguely on the young side, he’ll graduate at seventeen if we don’t hold him back.   But then I also read that retaining them for academic reasons is discouraged, but if a kid is being held back for confidence or school readiness, then that’s a kid who would really benefit from the extra year.

I don’t know what to do.  And because I don’t know – I’m super easily swayed one way or another.  I read one article assuring me that it’s not a good idea, and I’m convinced.  I talk to a friend who thinks I should hold him back, give him an extra year, and I waver.  I talked to his Hebrew school teacher who said to push him ahead, but make sure he’s got structured activities all summer, I talked to another friend who’s also a teacher and she said to push him ahead.  I’m all baffled and confused – leaning towards moving him up, but not fully convinced that it’s the right thing.   And either way – I still feel guilty.

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