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to not want my DC to be smart but miserable?

(53 Posts)
dreamingbohemian Sun 11-Sep-11 15:23:48

Spent some time with a good friend of mine, we have toddler DC close in age to each other.

My friend is not only stricter than I am, but also sort of constantly teaching her DD things or 'quizzing' her (e.g. 'Oh look, there's a dog, D-O-G, what sound does a dog make?')

Her DD does seem very clever, and can be very sweet, but she also seems rather, well, unhappy most of the time (grumpy, whingy, clingy). I think partly it's that she's tired (she doesn't get to nap when she wants), and perhaps also because of some other preferences my friend has (for example, she doesn't want her DD to get too attached to things and pick up bad habits, so she was never allowed a dummy and isn't allowed now to carry around her favourite plush toy too often).

I would appreciate some advice because I find myself caught between wanting to be more like my friend (I'm a bit of a slacker) but not wanting my boy to be smart or well-behaved at the expense of being happy. So far he is a very sweet and easygoing boy, obviously sometimes he will have to be unhappy (e.g. if he is misbehaving and has to be punished) but I would hate that to become his default demeanor.

AIBU to think happy kids are more likely to be well-behaved anyway?

AIBU to think the advantages of being intelligent can be wiped out by being unhappy?

I thought I knew what I was doing but now I'm not so sure...

worraliberty Sun 11-Sep-11 15:27:13

My advice is that you concentrate on your own child and stop looking at how others parent theirs.

Having what appears to be a 'clever' child does not necessarily mean it's going to be miserable.

It sounds like her parenting style irritates you...and perhaps your style irritates her.

Therefore, just do your own thing and concentrate on what works for you and your own family.

TadlowDogIncident Sun 11-Sep-11 15:27:19

She may just not be a very "happy" child anyway: I was a miserable sod till I was about 14, as I wasn't very good at being a child - I became much happier when I grew up because it was so much easier being an adult.

I don't know the answer to either of your questions. But happy child does not equal happy adult (or vice versa), and in some ways it can be an advantage to be an unhappy child - I worked very hard, have the results to show for it and have a job that makes me very happy as an adult.

Bangtastic Sun 11-Sep-11 15:29:31

You do know what you are doing, and it shows with your very sweet and easy going boy - your words.

Don't second guess yourself. You sound like you're doing brilliantly, and your boy sounds like he agrees! Do what you feel is right, you're his mum, you know best even if sometimes it doesn't feel like it!

meditrina Sun 11-Sep-11 15:30:55

Nothing in what you have said about your friend's style of parenting is a red flag to sure-fire misery. Nor is it an indicator of likely raised "intelligence" or in any way of future behaviour.

You don't sound particularly friendly towards her. Is it time for you to move on to different, but more homogenous, friends?

ragged Sun 11-Sep-11 15:33:28

Welcome to Motherhood, you feel Guilty no matter what you do. wink

I have a gut feeling that what OP is uncomfortable with is the "controlling" style of her friend. It will make more sense as the children age.

And no, I don't think I'd be comfortable with it, either.

Tchootnika Sun 11-Sep-11 15:34:15

As other posters have said, it sounds as if you're doing well, and there's not a lot of point making comparisons.
Also, though, 'hothousing' very small children doesn't actually serve any longterm goal of 'amking them cleverer' (far from it, if you consider e.g. that children learn better, generally, when their formal education starts at 6 or 7 rather than 5...)
This sort of 'hothousing' might set children up to be more competitive, but that's very different from being clever.

ImperialBlether Sun 11-Sep-11 15:38:39

I think it's great to talk to children a lot, to show them things, to explain things etc but there should be time in a child's day for contemplation, for sitting thinking about nothing in particular and for just having a bloody good belly laugh.

If a child has a friend round, I think the mum can afford to sit back and relax the stimulation (ie stop mithering the child and talk to the other adults instead.)

dreamingbohemian Sun 11-Sep-11 15:43:39

I know, I know, I should just concentrate on my own life, I'm really not trying to be judgy for the sake of it, it's just really making me question myself. Like, everything is okay now, but am I setting myself up for big problems in the future?

I think ragged has hit it on the head, it does all seem a bit controlling and that's probably what I'm reacting to.

I do adore my friend, she's lovely. We just have different parenting styles obviously. I do worry if we will have problems going forward, I'm sure she thinks I'm too easy on the discipline side.

dreamingbohemian Sun 11-Sep-11 16:24:52

Imperial I totally agree smile

Thanks for the opinions everyone, I think actually I do have a bit of Mum Guilt going on that I need to get over...

Xenia Sun 11-Sep-11 16:40:40

By the age of three children from homes which use limited vocabulary are already behind so you might find it is too late to change your ways.....

However it is much more likely you just have different styles. Plenty of parents help young children spell and a huge raft of us think dummies are disgusting and never used them. People are different. The proof of the pudding will be by about age 29 when you will see which of the children is happiest and which earns the most.

dreamingbohemian Sun 11-Sep-11 17:14:30

I wouldn't say we have a limited vocabulary, but I guess thus far I am hoping DS is just absorbing things by us talking, reading, singing to him. So if I were to change things, it would mean more directly teaching him things, asking him questions, being more instructional.

But he's only 17 months, it just seems so young still.

It's such a short time they are allowed to just 'be', I don't want to shortchange him but I also want him to just enjoy life, at his own pace.

ImperialBlether Sun 11-Sep-11 17:18:50

You can still teach him things, though, can't you, without spoiling his life? If you sat a young child down and tried to teach them how to count, they'd be bored, but if you encouraged him to count steps, he'd see it as fun. (When he's older, not at that age.)

I dislike it when people set out to hothouse their children without giving them time to be a child, but they are such sponges when they're young, it's a shame not to help them along.

CustardCake Sun 11-Sep-11 17:28:45

Very clever children sometimes have a serious personality from day 1.
Or you may be right and her mother's hothousing is making her stressed and unhappy. Either way its not really for you to judge.
There is no reason though why you can't do sounds and colours and other games with your DS, stop when he tires of them and keep them low-key and fun. It doesn't have to be a choice between smart and miserable or ignorance is bliss.

pictish Sun 11-Sep-11 17:30:41

My advice? None of what you have asked matters.
You do your thing and let your friend do hers.
It's the only way.

dreamingbohemian Sun 11-Sep-11 17:34:41

That's what I'm hoping to do, when he's a bit older... It's not that I don't want to encourage him to learn, I just feel like it would be going way over his head at this point, so why not just let him play and explore?

It was just seeing my friend do things differently, made me wonder if I'm being an idiot.

dreamingbohemian Sun 11-Sep-11 17:36:25

oh sorry, that was in response to Imperial

dreamingbohemian Sun 11-Sep-11 17:47:27

To be clear, I would never say anything to my friend about this (that's what MN is for!)

I know 'to each her own' and all that.

It's just, for my own reasons (messed up childhood), I feel like the most important thing is that DS is happy. I worry sometimes that this will lead me to neglect equally important things.

LittleDeerandMe Sun 11-Sep-11 17:55:44

There has to be a balance bohemian. Only caring that your child is happy in the now doesn't automatically equate to them being happy as an adult.

My dh comes from a very laid back family, it was always as long as you're happy. But it was too extreme, for example my dh needed dental work as a child, he didn't want it, his parents didn't want to make him unhappy so they didn't force it,now as an adult his teeth are all over the place and he wished they had done! Also when he was in the final yr of uni he of course was busy and stressed, his parents saw that and suggested he drop out because he wasn't happy! He had to point out that in a way he was and that getting his degree would make him happy, even if he had to be less than happy to get it sometimes.

FabbyChic Sun 11-Sep-11 17:59:49

I did not teach my children to read or anything. I have a son with a Maths degree earning heaps and a second son going to Uni to study maths.

Children learn at their own pace, plenty of time for learning its all they do from 4 to 21 is learn, let them be children as long as possible rather than trying to force them to run before they can walk.

LittleDeerandMe Sun 11-Sep-11 18:14:17

Oh don' get me wrong I don't agree with putting pressure on kids either. We are very laid back with ds and school will teach him to read etc. I just wanted to point out that making sure you're child is happy in the now does not automatically mean they will be happy in the long term.

Floggingmolly Sun 11-Sep-11 18:23:40

Smart and happy are not mutually exclusive.

Proudnscary Sun 11-Sep-11 18:30:37

You sound very thoughtful and kind and I am sure you are doing a fabulous job as a mum - go with your instincts and what feels right for you and your thriving dc.

HandsOffOurLand Sun 11-Sep-11 18:30:40

Being clever and pushed doesn't necessarily make you unhappy. Being less clever and/or less pushed doesn't necessarily make you happy. You do it your way, your friend does it hers. Your child has one personality; your friend's child has another.

And there is more to life than being happy. Sometimes children have to do things just because they make life nicer for other people (such as being polite, taking second place, waiting without whining, etc, etc, etc). Sometimes they have to go without things completely. In the short term, this makes them unhappy. In the long run, it makes them nicer, more considerate (and, possibly, happier) people. Happiness is not the be all and end all. And if you have never been unhappy, you don't appreciate it when you are happy.

It really isn't an either/or. It just sounds as if your parenting style is different from your friend's, and that your children have differing personalities. Stop watching her so closely and enjoy your own child instead.

dreamingbohemian Sun 11-Sep-11 18:32:52

I see what you mean, LittleDeer. I think that's what I'm worried about really, being too laidback. My parents were, basically, lunatics, and I'm trying to be the opposite! But there is such a thing as too laidback.

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