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    #138579 - 09/19/12 12:21 PM Weird family stuff
    Michaela Offline

    Registered: 11/18/09
    Posts: 530
    Loc: The bottom of my cup
    It's high holidays, which means family around our house. And our family is a little strange. Ok. In this particular case, it's thatDH's family is a bit strangethat's my issue.

    Of the last two generations of DH's family, about 2/3rds of the kids read at 2. My DS is three and doesn't read yet. more precicely, he *can* but doesn't. In a way that makes me suspect he has some of my family's legacy as well (my dad and I both needed remediation in grade 2to learn) as his fathers's. It's a lil wierd, eh? wink. Anyway. The family is very dismayed he isn't reading yet, and there's pressure. He got given a phonics thing, and was using it backwards... Using the letters to help him figure out what the pics were of. This frustrated people, because somehow they weren't cluing in that if he can do that, they probably don't need to worry that he dones't know letter sounds... Because he does. Anyway. Arg. Grumble. Frump.

    They refuse to answer his questions until he learns to read. Seriously. They aren't doing it consciously, they just won't hear the darned questions because they assume a kid needs to be able to read to ask questions like that. It's just layers of assumptions.

    Anyway, I'm concerned about his frustration with this, and also with the message he's getting which is that he isn't good enough for them. They assume he can't understand what they're saying because he doesn't read! I'm having trouble finding anyone other than myself willing to talk to the kid, really talk, and the best people to do it are really NOT getting it. If I could get them connecting, we'd probably spend more time with them, this is turning into a bad spiral.

    I feel like I have no resources, because my family isn't available, and my friends with kids do the same, and my friends without kids aren't into kids.

    I dont't know if I just want the family to connect with DS, or if I just want him to have some other confidante, or what. I probably want both. I guess that's it.

    Uh... Any suggestions? I know this will all be ok in the end. For one thi g, DS will probably read within a year or two, and for another, one of the gifts he got suggests at least one person is starting to get it (though he was clearly trying to please me,rather than DS). I just want to help, speed things up a little. Prevent the negative message for sinking in befoethings do improve... That kinda thing. Actually, I kinda want him to not pressure himself to read.

    This is so dumb. I'm frustrated because my kid is too smart, and not smart enough. I feel like we're just aliens or something. Nobody understands us!!!! Oh, the angst! I thought I already finished my troubled teens? Wasupwidat?

    (also, I need to fix my computer, this typing on an iPad thing sucks)
    DS1: Hon, you already finished your homework
    DS2: Quit it with the protesting already!

    #138639 - 09/20/12 09:14 AM Re: Weird family stuff [Re: Michaela]
    Nautigal Offline

    Registered: 04/22/09
    Posts: 1032
    If they assume a kid needs to be able to read to ask questions like that, and still don't make the connection that if he's asking questions like that, he must be able to read, then they aren't as smart as they think they are.

    If he is using the letters to figure out what the pictures are (hilarious -- and sounds like something my DS would have done), and they still can't make the connection that he knows what the letters are, then they aren't as smart as they think they are.

    There's a theme developing here. I doubt it will help you, though. smile

    It's probably just like a kid who learns to walk in private because he doesn't want anybody watching (my brother, for one) -- the bigger a deal it becomes to them, the less he wants to do it in front of them. I was that way with lots of things -- it wasn't that I couldn't say "please", for example, it's just that so many people made such a huge deal out of it, I wasn't about to do it. If only you could get them to just ignore the whole reading thing, they'd probably stumble upon him in the next room, reading the encyclopedias.

    #138641 - 09/20/12 09:50 AM Re: Weird family stuff [Re: Michaela]
    Mk13 Offline

    Registered: 07/20/12
    Posts: 761
    I know this is not the same thing but family sometimes drives me crazy too (and as much as I miss them since they live some 5000 miles away, it's probably a good thing in the end!) ... for some strange reason they are more interested in my boys' potty training than the fact that one could do all kinds of magic with numbers and puzzles at 3 and the younger one is learning to read at the age of 2 and seems to be learning everything these days with unbelievable speed. Yet when I tell them about the new things the boys learned to do, they don't even comment positively on it in any way and right away ask "so is he going on the potty yet?" ... they used to ask about DS who just turned 4 for the last 2 years so now I just tell them yes he's potty trained (though it's not exactly truth but he's very close to it!) and now they are bugging me about DS2.5 ... I'm pretty sure all kids eventually master the potty ... but not all kids will have the same fun learning like my boys do. Why can't the family share the excitement with me? ugh!

    And as for comparing kids ... I admit ... I have to keep reminding myself day after day that it's ok that DS4 is nowhere near the mastery of phonics and reading that DS2.5 is at ... it's ok, because most kids have no clue about reading at the age of 4! My main goal for now is to make sure DS4 doesn't feel inferior ... I don't want him to feel bad for not knowing things his younger brother does. DS4 is very smart too but I know a lot of his frustration coming most likely for the suspected Asperger's is what's standing between him and the things he wants to learn. They both love to learn on their own without any interference from me and I have no problems with that. I couldn't care less what other people think!

    My mom is coming for a visit in two months ... she hasn't been here since DS2.5 was 1 ... she's in for quite a challenge. I can just see her face when she'll be changing DS2.5's diaper while he'll be handing her his magnadoodle asking her to write words for him so he can read! lol ... I am so looking forward to this one! ... if she wants to, she can even potty train him for me! lol

    #138643 - 09/20/12 10:21 AM Re: Weird family stuff [Re: Michaela]
    Evemomma Offline

    Registered: 05/17/12
    Posts: 451
    I hear you.

    I just want my family to think my kids are great no matter - not because they are brilliant or beautiful or the best - but because my kids are their grandkids. My family (both sides) had the opposite reaction of yours upon learning that my ds was reading at 2: that somehow I was "forcing him to learn" and most likely ruining his childhood and scarring him for life. Nice.

    My dd2.5 only knows a few letters and does not seem the least bit interested in reading/math the way her brother was. I'm convinced she'll be JUST FINE.

    If your in-laws don't cool it, maybe your dh needs to politely tell them to knock it off and enjoy your son for who he is and not what he does.

    Edited by Evemomma (09/20/12 10:23 AM)

    #138648 - 09/20/12 11:13 AM Re: Weird family stuff [Re: Michaela]
    skyward Offline

    Registered: 03/23/08
    Posts: 123
    Loc: midwest
    Family can be so frustrating. We have experienced a similar thing with our DD who just turned 4. The first two read very early and family just expects her to do the same things. One thing I have noticed is that some family members have idealized memories of what the other children were actually reading at that age. Some how the definition has moved from oh the two year old can sound things out there reading to your not reading yet because you can't read everything fluently. No one ever has said this but I realized this the other day when DD4 said she could not read yet because she couldn't read harry potter by herself. There are lots of parts to reading and a set of skills that develop over time. We have now started to make a point of referring to her as a reader and highlighting the things she can read when around family, and then glaring at them until they say wow that's great. Interestingly she has focused much more on her math skills and seems to learn those skill much quicker. I think it is hard for the littlest child because the measuring stick gets set so high, and they unconsciously compare themselves to the older children. Things that completely amazed us with DD1 seem more typical now that we are surrounded by similar children. We have discussed this impact with our family and expect them to be positive about her growth. I have been trying to spend more time one on one with her which is easier with the other two in school now. I worry that she has not gotten as much attention as the other two over the years because she is the youngest.

    When I realized this was happening. I asked DD then 3 what she wanted to do about it. She wanted easier books but did not want me to tell anyone about it! I realized we had a shortage of easier books as many of them had been given away or didn't make it through the other two. We ended up stocking her room with early readers and board books. She looks at these on her own time and we only comment on her reading if she invites us to hear a story. She has gotten much more comfortable reading but prefers to interact with the uncles who were also youngest children, both of them seem to really get her. Everyone tries to be very supportive of the kids but sometimes it is hard to be the littlest. Now that you mention it the older two tend to dominate conversations and get there questions taken more seriously by the adults.
    I just keep reinforcing that she is loved unconditionally and that her value does not come from what she can do but who she is and that she is my precious baby that I love unconditionally. My DS would roll his eyes at this part when I did this to him. Then I would follow this with lots of hugs and snuggles! Hopefully your family will respect his right to develop at his own pace if you explain the impact the pressure is having on him. If they continue to pressure him I would step in and say something and make it clear that you have certain expectations about the messages they are sending.

    I am going to pay more attention to making sure DD4 gets to participate in conversations and that people take her questions seriously. She does kind of get treated like the baby. Good luck with your family. I am curious to hear what happens.

    #138665 - 09/20/12 06:09 PM Re: Weird family stuff [Re: Michaela]
    Michaela Offline

    Registered: 11/18/09
    Posts: 530
    Loc: The bottom of my cup
    I think they're a little hung up on smart. I think they define themselves that way. I think they're so worried DS won't be smart enough that they can't perceive him very well. If he doesn't do things in e expected order, they're too busy worrying about what he "missed" to notice what he's DOING! If they want a smart kid, they got one. Part of the reason they can't hear his questions also appears to be that they don't actually have the background (like that birds really are related to dinosaurs, and that's not just a silly fantasy question... Even if most other kids would just have asked about flightless birds and left out the dinosaur part. He's not dumb because he understands some aspects of evolution. Jus' sayin')

    I appreciate thhe advice to talk to them about it, but I think they don't understand what I'm saying. I've tried, is what I'm trying to say.

    Evemomma, you said just what I feel... That I want them to care about my kids for being my kids, even (shock and horror) if they think they're dumb. I don't want things to be contingent on brilliance. And it gauls me a little extra because he actually happens to be smart.

    DS1: Hon, you already finished your homework
    DS2: Quit it with the protesting already!

    #138669 - 09/20/12 06:54 PM Re: Weird family stuff [Re: Michaela]
    Val Offline

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3296
    Loc: California
    IMO, your child is who he is, and that's okay.

    This can be a hard pill to swallow for some people when the child isn't who they want him to be and can create problems for the kid (see The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom for examples). When people put pressure on someone to be different than s/he is, there can be hurtful consequences.

    Kids (especially little ones) can't see grownups as being flawed, and so pushing the kid in an unhealthy way to READ! or THROW! or PLAY! can be damaging. The child can internalize things as being his fault, when it's really the grownup who's out of line. Pushing a child can be positive when you think that the child can do something but is afraid to try for a variety of reasons. We went through this with one of our kids over the summer, and it did him a lot of good/built his confidence. On the other hand, pushing to satisfy something going on in the adult's own mind can be unhealthy and can make a child feel inadequate.

    So I guess you have to decide if your relatives are trying to gently push your son just for his edification or if they're doing this for their internal reasons. I'd talk to them. Share your concerns in a non-judgmental way and see what they say. Example: I see that you've been focusing on X with DS and was wondering why."

    #138689 - 09/21/12 07:51 AM Re: Weird family stuff [Re: Michaela]
    Dude Offline

    Registered: 10/04/11
    Posts: 2856
    I agree with Nautigal.

    It's your DH's family, and conventional wisdom says he needs to deal with it. But in your place, I'd make it plain that if nothing changes, I'm going to try to keep DS away from them as much as reasonably possible, at least for a little while, to give the grown-ups some time to grow up.

    #138691 - 09/21/12 08:18 AM Re: Weird family stuff [Re: Val]
    JonLaw Offline

    Registered: 07/29/11
    Posts: 2007
    Loc: The Sub-Tropics
    Originally Posted By: Val
    This can be a hard pill to swallow for some people when the child isn't who they want him to be and can create problems for the kid (see The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom for examples). When people put pressure on someone to be different than s/he is, there can be hurtful consequences.

    Part of this comes from seeing a child as a tabula rasa entity.

    The idea that as the parent, it's your job to mold the child into something that's appropriate to your (meaning the parent's) purposes and goals.

    #138765 - 09/21/12 09:14 PM Re: Weird family stuff [Re: Michaela]
    Michaela Offline

    Registered: 11/18/09
    Posts: 530
    Loc: The bottom of my cup
    JonLaw: quit bein' so darned smart! Humph.

    Yeah, ok, perspective. That's so not my point of view, and wasn't even before I had kids. It had never occurred to me they could be thinking that way. And it could explain a lot. More than just this.

    Now what to do with this new perspective thingy.

    DS1: Hon, you already finished your homework
    DS2: Quit it with the protesting already!


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