I suppose it is human nature for a parent to marvel at how wonderful her little one is. “My Johnny is so advanced for his age. He’s already out of diapers and he just turned three!” That’s exciting news for any parent, but well behind the curve in most Asian nations where kids are cleaning up their own messes before they can walk. These types of remarks can truly spiral out of control when parents get together as they discuss feeding and sleep habits, language and motor skills, and, well, just about everything. I cannot blame parents for doing this because every book and website that discuss developmental milestones give lists of when to expect a child to begin speaking two-word phrases, eating with a fork/chopsticks, or driving a car.
But wait just a moment. The books on twins that we read all warned about how milestones are delayed with multiples, and that boy twins are the slowest. For better or worse, baby books and websites set parental expectations about how their kids will grow. In theory, this is useful knowledge to have, but it also gets parents comparing their own children to every other child. Somewhere in the recesses of the brain, we have bell curves for everything our babies will accomplish and we cling to the ones that have our kids at the top of the class and forget the ones where they are lagging behind.
On the other hand, I’ve long suspected that the developmental milestone lists out there are, how to put this mildly…dumbed down so that we parents can revel in our babies’ successes. “My Betty started walking at 14 months!” “Oh, Mindy started talking at 24 months.” Frankly, I just avoid these conversations. Otherwise, people are crushed at how advanced our kids are. Don’t believe me, just ask my wife.
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