Today’s society seems bent on raising academically intelligent children. There’s talk about what toys children should play with so they will be smart and what brain food parents should feed their babies. There’s a lot of smart-kid noise buzzing around. It hurts my ears. I’m not suggesting research is a bad thing but the application of it may be.
I want to ask this question: Is there a danger our society is shifting the value away from nurturing children so they can reach their potential (whatever that may be) to instead setting a steryotypical benchmark for children to meet? This reeks very much of the Tiger Mom mentality to me.
The Tiger Mom Phenomenon is something I’ve written about in length. I’ve covered my views on what success means to me in this post on SuperParents: What is Success? My own perspective on success is very different than the Tiger Mom top-down approach. The fact is, I don’t want my kids to be smart, I want them to feel loved. This is my motivation. I want to facilitate my children’s make-up, whether that be scientific, practical or creative. I believe being smart is not what IQ number defines you but how you utilise what you have. So in this way, I want my children to be confident in who they are so they can make good choices for themselves in the future.
The push for children to be academically successful is probably due to the perceived happiness derived from the result of such pursuits. However, this societal drive seems somewhat misplaced to me (and not at all accurate). This view actually seems very narrow-minded.
I’m flipping the coin here for a moment to look at how to raise a smart kid. I found this article: How to Raise a smart baby. Don’t be fooled by the title, it’s an interesting, well balanced article giving helpful tips without the guilt. Here are some of my favourite quotes:
“Confused by the sheer number of smart baby toys, books, and videos? Relax. All your baby really needs to boost brainpower is you.”
“While experts say baby brain development is still largely a mystery, what we do know is just how great a role natural parenting instincts can play in putting your baby on the fast track to success.”
“What mattered to babies a thousand years ago is still what matters today: You, the parent, are your baby’s best learning tool.”
I read it through and said, “YES!” Parents already have what it takes to raise successful children. My focus is not giving my kids a head start or burdening myself with reading a million parenting books, journals and news articles. Instead I invest my energy in ensuring my children know their worth, whether they be academically intelligent, hands on practical or wildly creative.
I love them. I be with them. I interact with them. I nurture them. I invest in them. I believe in them.
I think it’s easy for parents to be bogged down by all the talk because they love their kids and want the best for them. Personally, I give myself permission to turn down the noise and go with my gut, grounded by faith. It sort of comes in full circle, either way you look at it. It all starts with love.
Do find the smart kid talk noisy?