Dear Friend,

BennettWatching my son, Bennett, take a test for the first time was incredibly nerve wracking. Since our pediatrician thought he might have a language delay, my wife and I had arranged to have him assessed through the Early Intervention Program overseen by Suffolk County. The evaluator came to our house and, after asking us several questions, invited Bennett to play with some household items and toys that she had brought along while asking him questions. While displaying a ball, a plastic truck, and a plush duck, she asked Bennett to show her the truck. Bennett looked at her, gave a big smile, and made an effort to see what else was in her tote bag. “Pick the thing in the middle, Bennett, that’s the truck!” I wanted to shout. He did a lot better when she asked him to show her the ball and the duck. Both times, he picked up the item immediately. “Yay!” I thought to myself.

I was very surprised at my reaction to the evaluation. I’ve been reading Blessings of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel and agree completely when she writes that our children are not our masterpieces. Their successes or failures are not a reflection on their parents. No one would judge me if the evaluator determined that Bennett had a speech delay.

While I understand intellectually that the best thing we can for our kids is to let them find their own paths, my emotional inclination was to “overparent,” i.e. do everything I could to guarantee Bennett’s success. Child psychologists say we, as parents, need to find a balance between offering our children all of the tools they need for success while giving them space to succeed or fail on their own.

The most ridiculous thing about my reaction to the test? Bennett passed! If he was never worried about it, why was I? If you have thoughts or similar stories, please let me know!


Steve Long

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